BBDO Made Marijuana Strains Whose Curious Names Will Harsh Your Mellow

A campaign about the consequences of driving high

It can be a real bummer when people remind you about the dangers of driving high. But you know what’s a way bigger buzzkill? Driving high and causing a fiery crash—with the twisted steel and ruined lives.

In an effort to avert such tragedies ahead of next year’s legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, road safety group R.I.D.E. Checks is launching an unorthodox campaign via BBDO Toronto that brings the consequences of stoned driving into sharp focus.

Making the product itself the message, the client and agency partnered with medical cannabis producer Beleave to actually create three new strains of weed.

Each strain represents a possible outcome of driving high:

• Kourtroom Kush promises “an emotional joyride that doesn’t end well. This first-time offender conjures up feelings of regret, shame and guilt, the same emotions as someone who’s just been charged with impaired driving.”

• Slammer Time “packs a potent punch, often inducing feelings of remorse, paranoia and isolation from the outside world. The same feelings as someone who’s been sentenced to life in prison for killing another driver or pedestrian.”

• White Whiplash “starts mellow then hits you hard. This bitter bold bud has been known to strike the perfect balance of misery and devastation. A similar outcome to some suffering from the pain of an auto accident injury.”

“Unlike driving drunk, there isn’t yet a stigma around driving high,” says agency creative chief Denise Rossetto. “In fact, a lot of users we spoke to actually believe they’re better drivers when they’re high. So, we knew we had to do something to change public perception.”

As for campaign inspiration, “the idea came from the fact that today there’s a strain for anything—chilling on the couch, studying for an exam,” she says. “We decided to create thee more that remind you to stay safe.”

The product, featuring bold white-on-black packaging and cheeky promotional posters, will be on display, though not actually for sale, at Canadian medical marijuana dispensaries. All materials drive users to a dedicated website,, which features a series of informational videos. They answer frequently asked questions, such as “Can they tell if I’m high?” (hell yes!), “Is driving high illegal?” (d’uh!) and “What’s the worst that could happen?” (it’s very, very bad).

All in all, this particular communications strain has a mellower flavor that some impaired-driving initiatives. To make its point, the work cleverly subverts expectations rather than hitting its audience head-on with overly familiar blood-guts-and-tears imagery.

“We wanted to be really careful that our message wasn’t anti-marijuana, but was very anti-driving-while-impaired,” Rossetto says. “It was important we didn’t put down legalization, but for people to know there truly are consequences.”

We wondered if BBDO kept some samples of Kourtroom Kush or White Whiplash around the office for research purposes, but Rossetto assures us that “we have all the data we need.”

Project: Consequence Strains

Client: Beleave
Client: R.I.D.E. Checks

Creative Agency: BBDO Toronto
Chief Creative Officers: Denise Rossetto and Todd Mackie
Associate Creative Director (copywriter): Matt Hubbard
Associate Creative Director (Art Director): Mike Schonberger
Senior Designer: Mike Nugent
VP, Group Account Director: Rebecca Flaman
Account Director: Tania Montemarano
Account Supervisor: Deanna Tatham
Account Coordinator: Andrea Stranges
BBDO Project Managers: Jason Dick, Melissa Hadley
BBDO Developers: Alex Ghattas, Douglas Glover, Peter Etherington
BBDO QA: Della Lytle
BBDO Analytics: Arpan Rai
BBDO Community Manager: Scott Douglas

Production Company: Flare
Executive Producer/Director: Dave Lembke
Lead DoP: Stuart Cameron
Other DoP: Angel Navarro iii
Other DoP: Luke McCutheon
Sound: Burton Lavery

Post Production Credits
Offline: Rooster Post Production
Editor: Colin Murdock
Producer: Adam Veroni
Executive Producer: Melissa Kahn

Color: Nice Shoes
Colorist: Roslyn DiSanto
Executive Producer: Kristen Van Fleet

Sound: Vapor RMW
Mix: Ted Rosnick
Producer: Kat Stewart

Online: Fort York VFX
Lead Flame Artist: James Marin

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: November 27, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT