Surrey Police

Surrey Police

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‘Don’t Be A Gummy Dummy’ – edibles advertising campaign

Design Inc has provided Surrey Police with a number of creative public information advert campaigns over the years including supporting high profile nationwide initiatives in Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Domestic Abuse (DA) as well as the highly successful Hate Crime campaign.
So, when we were asked to create the designs for a new edibles advertising campaign to highlight the risk to children taking cannabis candies, we jumped at the opportunity.

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What are edibles?

Edibles, also known as ‘jellies’ or ‘cannabis candies’ are edible cannabis packaged & marketed to look like normal jellied sweets such as gummy bears, jellies snakes, etc. And while these edibles look like sweets, smell like sweets and even taste like sweets, they can contain significant levels of the psychotropic cannabis component THC.

The problem is that they are deliberately being marketed to children who can easily consume large toxic amounts accidentally. And the concern is that long-term harmful effects are a possibility.

With a rising number of hospitalisations in the Surrey area, Surrey Police knew they needed to take action and approached us for help in the creation of an awareness campaign.

Edibles advertising campaign: The Brief

In May 2021, we were commissioned to work with Surrey Police Force in the creation of an information advertising campaign focusing on the dangers of edibles.

The campaign would be targeted to 11-15 yr old schoolchildren. The message was simple: edibles were both illegal and harmful. And the underlying goal was clear – to inform but not scare.

Our job was to devise a creative campaign around this message without being pushy or dictatorial. And, more importantly, ensuring any visual did not glamourise the product in any way. We were fully aware that telling a child not to do something could easily backfire.

The Approach

Now that we were aware of the brief, the goal and the audience, our next step was to consider various different ‘angles’ as to how the message could be presented. The list was reasonably extensive and included:
Think – do you know what you are eating?
Fool – you are an idiot to take edibles
Trust – do you trust the person giving it to you?
Not cool – you are not cool by taking edibles
Symptoms – highlighting the possible side effects
Drugs – likening edibles to hard drugs
Blind – not all that looks like a gummy, is a gummy

From the various angles, we started to sketch out some associated designs, with the director even roping in his 14yrs old nephew for an initial photo session. And, from here, we were in a good position to know which of the varied design ideas to put forward.

The Selection

Surrey Police were liaising with a local school and had set up a working group for this project. This included teachers, schoolchildren and support staff. Moreover, Fearless – the youth arm of Crimestoppers – was also involved.
Having seen the concepts, the working group approved two designs to move forward to the next stage. However one day after that decision was made, two local schoolchildren were hospitalised having eating cannabis candy.

The edibles advertising campaign was immediately pushed higher up the agenda and the deadline for roll-out brought forward, leaving us with ten days to get the designs wrapped up.
Because of this, one of the two shortlisted concepts was selected to become the main creative. And, the issue with this was that they had selected a design that required a photoshoot. And this would take up valuable time!

The Creative

The chosen creative was a concept sketch that played on the emotion of self worth. This featured a pupil staring at their reflection in a mirror of the school washroom. The reflection however, was a large gummy bear staring back at them along with the strapline: ‘Don’t Be A Gummy Dummy – taking cannabis candy is not a good look’. It was short, sharp and immediately effective, playing on the child’s belief as to how they would be perceived based on their behaviour.

Our next step would require us to convert the sketch into a real advert and this required a dedicated photoshoot. In a school washroom, with schoolchildren. Oh, and with a massive gummy bear staring back at them.
And, although we did not have a lot of time, we were lucky in that this came just before the school would break up for half-term. With the school’s permission, this gave us uninterrupted access for a day during half-term. The photographer was quickly arranged, 4 child models selected and a date confirmed for the shoot. All was going well….but…

Have you ever looked closely at a Gummy Bear? Let me tell you, they’re not at all photogenic and have no real features and they’re tiny. And, with no time / budget to create a realistic gummy bear illustration / 3D render, we thought we may have become stuck.
But, a quick search on line led to us purchasing a large gummy bear on Amazon. And, this is what we did.
The school photoshoot went well. the washrooms already benefited from large mirrors and good lighting and the four child models were a dream to work with.
Once the school photoshoot was done, the photographer was ideally placed to take photos of the gummy – ensuring he had the right angle and lighting to perfectly suit the ‘reflection’ part of the advertisement.

So, with images of the four schoolchildren in place and good imagery of the large gummy, we could start the final piece of the puzzle and start artworking up the design and setting up for print in a number of formats: print adverts, direct mail, posters, social media graphics.

The edibles advertising campaign for Surrey Police comprised of four adverts, each one featuring a child staring at a reflection of a different coloured gummy bear.

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