Anti-Pot "Don't Be a Lab Rat" Campaign Uses Disputed Facts That Might Be True
Mike Sukle, the advertising agency pro who worked with Colorado officials to develop a new anti-pot campaign, had a significant challenge on his hands. He wanted to warn teens away from marijuana use without engaging in the sort of hyperbole they'd likely reject. Hence, "Don't Be a Lab Rat," which presents controversial facts and then asks viewers the equivalent of "Wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry?"
A cage that's part of the "Don't Be a Lab Rat" campaign. More photos plus videos below.
Continue for more details from Sukle, plus additional photos and videos.
The campaign, which launched this week, sports a slew of components, including a website, as well as interactive theater ads and TV public-service announcements (see both below) and rat cage installations that will pop up at various locations, including Denver Central Library and Red Rocks concerts such as Fall Out Boy and Paramore tonight and Jack White on August 20.
An image from the Don't Be a Lab Rat website.
Sukle, founder and creative director for Sukle Advertising & Design, describes the concept's genesis like so.
"We understood from the get-go that this would be an incredibly daunting effort," notes Sukle, whose agency also came up with the "Don't Be That Guy" ads for Denver Water -- including the Vladimir Putin-like image that had to be pulled after last month's deadly plane crash in the Ukraine. "Anywhere kids look now, the buzz is all about marijuana. So we did a study with kids across the state -- sat down and had conversations with them about the substance: if they didn't use it, if they did...and if so, how it fit into their lives. And then we talked about specific messaging and ideas.
"The campaign that's up now isn't something we took to the kids," he acknowledges. "It resulted from talking with them. And the thing that was most important to them was the harm it does to their brain. They were surprised by that. They see their brains as a really important element to who they are and they want to protect that."
Additionally, Sukle goes on, "the kids wanted the facts. One kid was like, 'Don't sugar-coat anything for us. Don't come out and try to scare us. We want facts.' So we looked into the research, the studies that were done. And the campaign really just presents those studies to kids."
Sukle concedes that "the whole science of developing brains and the effects marijuana has is in its infancy. While there's a pretty good set of research, a lot of people dispute it. They don't believe it. So we wanted to be very honest and straight-forward -- to say, 'Here's a study, people dispute it, but do you really want to take that chance? Don't be a lab rat. People are going to be watching you to either prove or disprove these studies.'"
Continue for more about the "Don't Be a Lab Rat" campaign, including two videos.