‘Drive High, Get a DUI’

By Matt Gillis

A new product category has made its way to the advertising world. As several states including Colorado, Washington, and New Jersey legalize recreational or medical use of marijuana, weed is proving itself as a lucrative product with new opportunity for promotion.

However, legalized marijuana has also proven to be a polarizing political issue, causing many to question the safety of its recreational use. Because of this, states allowing citizens to get a legal high are now turning to responsible marijuana use public service announcements to ease the minds of those less gung ho about the drug’s journey to mainstream America.

Beginning March 10 through the week of April 14, the state of Colorado, who legalized the recreational use of marijuana beginning January 1, will air an advertising campaign that cautions recreational marijuana users from getting behind the wheel while high. The advertisements take a more light-hearted approach toward driving under the influence compared to other DUI campaigns such as drinking and driving. The campaign uses humor to reach its target audience, featuring stoners under the influence of marijuana trying and failing to start a grill, play basketball, and install a television.

The campaign titled “Drive High, Get a DUI” was created by four Denver-based agencies including Amelie Company, Explore Communications, Communications Infrastructure Group, and Hispanidad. With an increased DUI advertising budget of $500,000 from their typical $325,000, Colorado’s marijuana campaign will feature print and television advertisements that will be placed in Denver, Boulder, and Grand Junction as well as online.

While many would agree that public service announcements like this one are necessary in educating the public about responsible marijuana use, the humorous approach used by Colorado seems to satirize the issue rather than take it seriously. Because the advertisements fall under the same category as those directed at drinking and drinking, they are obviously subject to comparison. The severity, seriousness, and often gruesome nature of drinking and driving advertisements make the “Drive High, Get a DUI” advertisements seem nothing more than a joke.

The humorous nature of the campaign does little more than to catch each viewer’s attention. The advertisements make fun of their target audience, which are recreational marijuana users, by playing on stereotypes and making them look incompetent, lazy, and annoying. While the goal of the public service campaign was not to vilify marijuana use, the message was communicated at the expense of those engaging in the recreational activity.

Reference list:

–          Sebastian, M. (2014, March 6). Watch the Pot: ‘Drive High, Get a DUI’ Ads Chide Newly Legal Weed Smokers. Advertising Age. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from http://adage.com/article/media/colorado-s-drive-high-a-dui-poke-fun-pot-smokers/292027/

4 thoughts on “‘Drive High, Get a DUI’

  1. I honestly enjoy the humorous approach taken by this PSA- I think it does a great job of grabbing attention, creating buzz, etc. However, I don’t think that making fun of their target audience lessens the value, importance, or effectiveness of the ad. Instead, I feel as though the humor will resonate with the intended audiences and they will pay closer attention to the ad.


  2. I personally enjoy the humor used in this PSA. I think that with a subject like this, the fact that it is expressed negatively is enough to get the point across, regardless of making fun of the target audience. There is the always going to be stereotypes when something that has always been illegal finally becomes legal, especially when there is still a large amount of people against it. This way it doesn’t upset either side of the debate too harshly.


  3. I think humor in this PSA is a great idea. People who smoke pot constantly scrutinize regulations against weed that call it dangerous. A serious PSA wouldn’t have been taken seriously by marijuana users. Humor gains attention while also proving its point.


  4. I agree with the comments above. Using humor in a PSA is a great way to get peoples attention, especially people who may be high while watching the ad on TV. Using a serious PSA for this particular group would not have been taken seriously because, as stated above, it is not who the audience this ad is targeting is. Additionally, people may have automatically tuned out a serious ad because they would have assumed it was for drinking. Therefore, I think this is a wonderful new approach to the PSA.


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