When Colorado became one of only four states to completely legalize cannabis in the United States last year, there were still a few questions remaining. So mixed-media production studio Roger, working with Denver-based agency Cactus, stepped in to answer them with the informational animated piece “Good to Know.” Created for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the 0:60 spot brings to life the rules of legalized marijuana use with sophisticated design and a creative cast of local characters.
“Good to Know” takes a gentle, friendly tone as the voiceover offers an educational rhyme, that lays down the basic rules of recreational marijuana use in Colorado. Prius drivers, dog walkers and burly campers scamper across the screen, demonstrating the basic do’s and don’ts of the law through the use of beautiful, sophisticated character animation and a soft, classic color palette.
“Given the subject matter, our approach to the style and animation was carefully crafted,” says Roger Executive Creative Director/Owner Terry Lee. “It would have been very easy to cross the line into ‘psychedelic’ or ‘cartoony’ so we kept that in mind during our process in order to create a look that was vibrant, engaging and approachable for an adult audience. ”
The spot is part of an 18-month educational campaign — the state’s first since legalizing recreational pot in 2014 — that includes out-of-home ads, digital and social media outreach, radio and print.
This is Roger’s first collaboration with Cactus, which approached the studio after seeing their past character animation. The agency wanted to execute “Good to Know” as an animated campaign, knowing the Roger team would approach the spot with the kind of sophisticated, design-driven style they desired.
“Our job was not to encourage marijuana use, or to judge it, but rather to create an educational campaign that’s interesting, relevant and likable in order to ensure the messages would be welcomed by, and helpful to, individuals on all sides of the issue,” says Brian Watson, Cactus VP, Creative Director. “Roger has been on our radar at Cactus for a while now, and as we began conversations with them about this project, it quickly became clear that they would be the perfect partner to execute the delicately balanced design and animation style we had in mind for this campaign.”
Although a lot of information had to be packed into one :60 spot, Roger was given the freedom to develop how to visually address each bullet point of the campaign.
“Cactus approached us because they enjoyed an internal studio piece we created,” says Roger Executive Producer Josh Libitsky. “It’s very gratifying to be appreciated for our personal creative projects. For ‘Good To Know,’ they had done a nice job of blocking out the narrative, but the creative was open for interpretation, and we really enjoyed the design and animation process.”
After exploring a variety of character styles, shapes and textures, Roger eventually landed on a cast of characters and a modernist animation style that differed from any of their past projects; one which everyone at both Roger and Cactus was excited about.
“Creating the characters was a back-and-forth challenge that we enjoyed,” concludes Lee. “It was important for our cast of animated characters to not be viewed as cliched marijuana users. At the same time, we also wanted to represent the multicultural landscape of Colorado in a fun and amusing way.”