Current Issue Summary
December 2021 (Vol. 61, Issue 4)
Can Marijuana Counter-Marketing Prevent Underage Use? Analyzing Youth Response to Colorado’s “Don’t Be a Lab Rat” Campaign
In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana. Public health officials were worried about how the new law might affect use of the drug by young people under the age of 21. So, the state hired Sukle Advertising and Design to launch and manage a marketing campaign to motivate this age group to not use pot, or at least postpone using it. The long-term impact of the campaign remains uncertain. But, in this paper, Mike Sukle and Dan Schultz (both at the Sukle agency), along with Andrew J. Czaplewski and Thomas Martin Key (the University of Colorado) demonstrate evidence that—for the young people who had seen the advertisements—the messaging was important. As a result, they were more negatively disposed toward marijuana use than they had been before the campaign.
Among the takeaways:
- Young people have a keen awareness that recreational marijuana legalization is new, and the extent of possible harmful effects on them is relatively unknown. Ergo, they do not want to be experimented on.
- Young people value their brains and want to protect them from harm. Future counter-marketing efforts could leverage this insight for marijuana or other undesirable products and behaviors for the youth.
- Young people want to be given factual information with which to make their own decisions about marijuana use. Ads should use messaging that cites credible research on the health and social consequences of pot use.
Read the full article here.