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National advertising nonprofit behind Smokey Bear launches marijuana-impaired driving campaign

Ad Council

The national advertising nonprofit behind wildfire prevention icon Smokey Bear and the drunken driving motto “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” is launching a new multimedia campaign to combat marijuana-impaired driving.

The Ad Council, based in New York, launched the campaign Tuesday, debuting the first of three video stories that will be released over the next couple of weeks. The campaign, which will also include non-video ads, will largely be featured in mobile and other digital formats, with some television ads, too.

“For us, as more states across the country are legalizing marijuana, we know that marijuana-impaired driving is really emerging as the next big road safety issue,” said Michelle Hillman, the Ad Council’s chief campaign development officer who oversaw the marijuana campaign.


“We’re just hoping we really get ahead of this and we change the social norm from the beginning.”

Of its various campaigns, the Ad Council is perhaps most well known for its character, Smokey Bear, which has for decades encouraged outside fire safety in an effort to reduce wildfires. The organization’s drunken driving campaign, launched in 1983, has also garnered its fair share of accolades.

This marijuana campaign, which highlights the slogan “if you feel different, you drive different,” is the organization’s first pot-impaired driving campaign. The first video emphasizes that people are already making plenty of smart choices while impaired; choosing not to drive should be one of them, the campaign says.

“We know the impact that we’ve had on drunk driving and buzzed driving, and we really think that this campaign is going to really follow in these footsteps,” Hillman said.

People across the country will see the campaign, but the group is largely targeting 18-34-year-old men.

Hillman said based on the data they had gathered, that demographic seemed most likely to “head out on the road, not realizing that this [marijuana] had an impact for them.”


Watch the first video from the marijuana-impaired driving campaign here:

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.