OCS wants to clear up the clouds of confusion surrounding cannabis use

Who: The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), with Cleansheet for strategy and creative; Bestlight for production; Initiative for media.

What: “Hazy on the Facts,” a social responsibility campaign promoting OCS’s new web resource, CannabisMadeClear.ca, which provides answers to questions around cannabis consumption. It’s the first major awareness push for the online resource, which quietly launched last year.

When and Where: The campaign’s first flight launched on July 10 and runs until Sept. 4, followed by a second flight running from Dec. 4 to Jan. 29. It consists of more than 160 pieces of media, running across social, digital, cinema, out-of-home—including a digital takeover at Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square—and TV, a first for OCS.

Why: Dave Rewak, senior director, marketing and consumer insights with OCS, said the goal for the campaign is to drive traffic to the online resource among Ontarians who are seeking information on cannabis, whether they’re cannabis users or “canna-curious.”

It’s intended to combat the growing amount of “myth and disinformation” that has sprung up in the wake of legalization, and covers topics like legal use, cannabis and youth, as well as health effects, and harm reduction.

“There are many sources of information out there…but none of them really give the full picture or fill consumers with the confidence they’re looking for to make an informed decision,” said Rewak. “They’ve cobbled together information from a number of online sources that will give them some picture, but not a full picture, of what they’re looking for. It creates a journey that is fraught with stalling, flailing, and going from one source to another until they feel they have to make a decision with the information they have available.”

Why TV? The campaign marks the organization’s first foray into broadcast, with the ad running during Sportsnet’s coverage of the MLB Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, as well as during Toronto Blue Jays telecasts. “Our previous advertising efforts have been focused on buying legal, which is a much more age-gated conversation,” said Rewak. “This is not an age-gated resource, it’s intended to have information for everyone, so that gives us the opportunity to consider channels like [TV].”

How: The creative shows people going about their daily routine, except their head is surrounded by a cloud—a literal representation of the confusion and misinformation that surrounds cannabis use. As the spot proceeds, people are shown typing in questions about cannabis and its use, such as how long does it stay in the system, how do they talk to their kid about cannabis, and can its use affect their mental health.

The simple message is that using the web resource helps eliminate that confusion, said Rewak. “It clears up the fog of misinformation, and the more you know, the better positioned you are to make a better decision about cannabis.”

And we quote: “We felt an approachable tone would strike the right balance for Ontarians with cannabis questions. When they go to CannabisMadeClear.ca and find their answers, the clouds part leaving only confident, knowing looks in their place.” — Scott Shymko, creative director, Cleansheet

Chris Powell