Public Service Announcements are frequently made to bring awareness to the dangers of driving under the influence. With the introduction of legalized marijuana, it is no wonder that these ads are now incorporating a whole new type of “driving under the influence.”
Here’s a few of the ads released by the Colorado Department of Transportation:
Here’s some more:
First, I think it is great that the Colorado Department of Transportation developed these advertisements. Obviously, there are dangers associated with the legalization of a drug, and many constituents place responsibility on the state of Colorado to ensure that these are addressed. Therefore, I find the PSAs both necessary and expected.
The advertisements poke fun at the stereotypical pot-head, alluding to the mindlessness that is often associated with the use of marijuana. Essentially, the advertisements display incompetent high people attempting to complete basic tasks, such as hanging up a TV, shooting a free throw, or lighting a grill- all of which fail miserably. The underlying message is that if you can’t do these basic tasks while you’re high, you most definitely can’t operate a motor vehicle. While many see this as offensive, I personally view it as both humorous and strategic.
Obviously, the Colorado Department of Transportation is aiming these ads at marijuana users, and doing so in a comical way. Humor is often one of the best ways to communicate a message; and although DUIs are a serious topic, adding comedic high people to lighten the message may help its effectiveness, particularly regarding the target audience of the Public Service Announcements.
If these advertisements had more serious undertones, I think it would place pressure upon both legislators and legalization advocates, allowing the opposition to ask- if this drug was so dangerous, why did we legalize it in the first place?
It is also important to note:
As polices change and new markets open up, the advertising industry sees new opportunities for growth. The legalization of marijuana not only opened up the need for public service announcements, but it will also open other doors as well. Eventually, shops may advertise their products, specials, locations, etc. as well. The advertising industry is constantly changing to technology, the economy, and social trends. The legalization of marijuana and the resulting advertising opportunities is a prime example of this.
– Stamper, L. (8, March 2014). The Colorado State Government Made These Ads About Smoking and Driving – and They’re Funny Even if You’re Not High. Time. Retrieved March 9, 2014, from http://time.com/16346/the-colorado-state-government-made-these-ads-about-smoking-and-driving-and-theyre-funny-even-if-you-arent-high/