Canada PSAs about Getting ‘Barely High’ Don’t Judge, They Just Discourage You from Driving


The Canadian government recently released a campaign called “Barley High is Still Too High to Drive”. The PSA campaign aims to remind cannabis fans that any level of buzz is enough to make you an unsafe driver. With the campaign, they skip the lecture about getting high and cut straight to being safe. The PSA doesn’t judge, it just aims to discourage you from driving when high.

Canada PSAs about Getting ‘Barely High’ Don’t Judge, They Just Discourage You from Driving

About Canada’s “Barley High is Still Too High to Drive” Campaign

The campaign was created by McCann Worldgroup Canada. The spots featured in the campaign were directed by The Perlorian Brothers, one of advertising’s most creative and mind-bending duos.

McCann and the Pelorian brother’s campaign features brief, surprisingly charming vignettes about everyday people getting just a bit high.  In the ads, we see them describe the differences between how they act when fully lit compared to when they’re “barely high.” The ads don’t judge but it does stress that at any of these scenarios would be signs that you’re too high to drive.


More Details about Canada’s “Barley High is Still Too High to Drive” Campaign

The agency based the campaign on Ontario government research into perceptions of cannabis use. They then supplemented the data with its own field research and focus groups featuring a key demographic. The key demographic were Canadian millennials. For recruiting talent for the ad, they decided not to cast the stereotypical “stoner” look. They instead focused on finding actors who seemed more like people you’d meet just about anywhere in day-to-day life. With their casting choices, the agency was trying to be subtle. They tried to acknowledge that cannabis is now a normal activity in Canada.

McCann Speaks on the Campaign

Josh Stein, executive creative director at McCann Toronto spoke about the campaign. He stated that the idea that being a little stoned and getting behind the wheel is OK is both pervasive and untrue.  According to him, data and face-to-face interviews showed that Canadian citizens simply do not understand how high they are or how long their high lasts. Stein explained that they need to communicate the idea that they understand pot is legal and that people are going to smoke pot and get high. According to Stein, getting high is okay but driving when high, no matter how buzzed you think you are is dangerous.

He talked about how they could have easily shown why smoking and driving is a bad idea. Instead, they decided to focus on what the real problem is. The problem is that people just don’t appreciate the fact they don’t know when they are too high to drive.

Canada legalized recreational marijuana use in 2018, making cannabis a more mainstream pastime. So the PSA campaign isn’t a “just say no,” but rather a “just don’t drive.”


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