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The Best Work You May Never See: McCann Canada, The Perlorian Brothers Define DUI For Pot Smokers, Government of Ontario

By

Robert Goldrich
Monday, Aug. 12, 2019

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A year after nationwide cannabis legalization, the Government of Ontario asked McCann Worldgroup Canada to help educate the public about the risks and consequences of driving while high.

Ontario had launched PSA campaigns to explore the legal, sales, marketing and social issues involving cannabis, but needed McCann’s help to educate Canadian citizens on the dangers of cannabis use and driving – and the legal ramifications.

McCann reviewed the Ontario Government’s research into the common misperceptions of impairment levels for people who have consumed cannabis. The agency then conducted field research and focus groups among Canadian Millennials, a key demographic. 

“The idea that being a little stoned and getting behind the wheel is OK is both pervasive and untrue,” said Josh Stein, ECD, McCann Toronto. The data and face-to-face interviews showed that Canadian citizens simply do not understand how high they are or how long their high lasts.

More troubling, the cultural conversation around pot-smoking framed the state of being high as a humorous conceit, ubiquitous in popular films and TV shows. Millennials clearly believed that their peer group could make appropriate decisions about driving while high “because they have smoked pot for years,” as many respondents indicated.

McCann needed to communicate two central ideas--that the crimes and penalties for driving while high are the same as for drunk driving, and that no individual is capable of making a rational decision about their ability to drive while high.

McCann landed on an approach that uses humor--a backbone of pot-smoking culture--to show a diverse group of pot-smokers engaged in weird, quirky interior monologues assessing their mental status while stoned. Each of the four :15 TV spots--directed by The Perlorian Brothers via Toronto production house Soft Citizen--shows how absurd the average pot-smoker looks, from the outside, while calculating his or her own sobriety while high.

In this spot, a pot smoker--who’s staring at a forkful of noodles--observes that when he’s really high, he laughs constantly. But when he’s barely high, he giggles. The message” “Barely High Is Still Too High To Drive.”

The goal of the campaign is to make young Canadian pot-smokers think twice before getting behind the wheel--to consider waiting a few hours, ordering a ride-sharing service, or finding a designated driver.

Credits

Client Government of Ontario Agency McCann Worldgroup Canada Josh Stein, executive creative director; Chris Duffett, creative director/copywriter; Rob Trickey, creative director/art director; Jacqueline Bellmore, executive producer. Production Soft Citizen, Toronto The Perlorian Brothers, director; Eva Preger, Link York, Rob Burns, exec producer; Merrie Wasson, line producer; Mikhail Petrenko, DP; Alexis DeBad, production designer. Casting Jigsaw Casting Shasta Lutz, casting director. Editorial Saints Editorial Griff Henderson, editor; Kerstin Juby, assistant editor; Tory Osler, exec producer. Color Alter Ego Wade Odlum, colorist. Online CRAFT Toronto Ben Spergel, online/VFX artist; Grant Pye, exec producer. Audio Pirate Toronto Tom Eymundson, audio director/producer; Kyle Anderson, engineer; Maggie Blouin-Pearl, producer. Music “LPGS over Hawaii” by Solvent.

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