Challenge 

Whether it’s from tobacco or cannabis, smoke is harmful to lung health. But for all the conversations about cannabis since its legalization in Canada, this particular health risk is rarely discussed. In the wake of legalization, we were asked to educate 18-to-25-year-old Canadians on the impact smoking cannabis can have on lung health. Knowing this audience is notoriously difficult to reach, we began by unpacking a few audience insights: 

  • Gen Z has little faith in institutions and can smell spin or oversell a mile away.
  • Gen Z are open to hearing about the impact of cannabis on lung health but dislike messaging that takes anything more than a neutral stance on cannabis consumption. 
  • Gen Z are best reached through content that “speaks to them in their own language,” with special preference for absurd, self-referential, and self-deprecating humour.

Building on this thinking, our strategic direction veered away from an overly sincere, “finger wagging” governmental tone, couching our valuable message in the kind of humour that would resonate with our audience. 

Idea 

Young audiences can’t get enough superhero content. But what if, instead of saving the day, a superhero had to confront a truly unexpected foe? Introducing “The Toker” – an Adult Swim-style, less-than-super hero whose instinct to save the world is constantly thwarted by his own compromised lung health. 

We debuted one animated short a week on both owned and social channels, as well as a host of display assets that teased The Toker character and “chronic misadventures.” Our influencer campaign was also heavily integrated into our content plan. To widen our reach, we engaged an English and a French influencer, turning them into characters in two of our animated shorts in their own likenesses, with lines they voiced-over themselves.

Our campaign microsite featured a downloadable infographic, and snackable content relating to cannabis’ impact on lung health. Every campaign element was designed to engage with our audience: with graphics that mirrored comic art, and content that was brief, useful and to the point.

Like any superhero worth his salt, we wanted The Toker to exist in real life. So, to bring The Toker to the streets, we premiered him at a charity 5KM run that coincided with Toronto’s Fan Expo. He, of course, ran poorly but offered teaser materials by way of explanation. 

And as the academic year got into full swing, we re-debuted our costumed crusader on campuses, to engage and educate the student populations around cannabis and lung health. 
 

Impact 

The campaign delivered 31.9M media impressions, resulting in 1.5M video views and over 122.6K visits to our microsite, where visitors spend almost three-and-half minutes engaging with the content. Through post-campaign measurement, we were able to confirm that over 70% of our target had a positive reaction to the campaign, and 50% considered changing their behaviour.