Drug Free Kids Canada talks cannabis with parents

Who: Drug Free Kids Canada and FCB Montreal.

What: A national pro bono campaign that aims to start pro-active conversations between parents and teens about drug use. It’s also reminding parents that there are tools and advice available at the DrugsFreeCanada.org website.

When & Where: The campaign launched earlier this month, running across donated TV, out-of-home, radio and digital.

Why: Cannabis use has risen markedly during the pandemic, with Canadians purchasing $2.6 billion worth of legal products in 2020, a 120% increase from 2019.

According to a 2018 study by the World Health Organization, Canada has the third-highest lifetime rate of cannabis use among 15-year-olds in 40 countries: 23% of boys and 21% of girls.

And according to CAMH’s Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey, an estimated 22% of Ontario students in Grades 7-12 used cannabis in 2019. According to Health Canada, one in six people who start using cannabis in their teens will develop an addiction to it.

Drug Free Kids Canada feels that it’s important for parents to talk with teens about drugs, but acknowledges that “having those conversations can be uncomfortable, tricky, and often come without the grounding of experience.”

How: The radio ads take a humorous tack, featuring parents turning to unlikely (and unhelpful) sources—such as a home assistant and a worker at a drive-thru window—to get advice on how to talk to their teenager about cannabis use. Billboards, meanwhile, use parental phrases that aren’t conducive to opening the lines of discussion between parents and teens, such as “You’ll get hooked” or other dire warnings prompting teens to respond “Hey, tell me how pot is going to kill me.”

The video creative takes a straight-ahead approach, with a teenage girl speaking directly to camera and providing advice for parents about how they can have the “cannabis talk” with their kid(s). The ad is repurposed from a previous set of spots depicting various teen responses to being confronted by parents about cannabis use, from “It’s better than drinking” to “It’s natural.”  All of the creative drives to the DrugsFreeCanada.org website.

And we quote: “The FCB team pulled out all the stops in creating an effective and positive multichannel campaign that perfectly fulfills our objective of being a reliable resource for parents and teenagers when it comes to talking about cannabis.” —Chantal Vallerand, executive director, Drug Free Kids Canada

Chris Powell