The short-lived career of Canada’s latest weed-awareness mascot came to an inglorious end this week. City officials in Leduc, a small but bustling town near Edmonton, Alberta, decided to scrap the mascot after parental outrage sparked hundreds of public comments criticizing the awareness campaign’s approach.
Cartoon Cannabis Cop Joins Growing List of Failed Weed-Awareness Characters
Weed is about to be legal in Canada. On October 17, to be exact. And provincial and municipal authorities have been busy preparing their residents for legalization. Canadian governments have set aside millions of dollars for additional law enforcement training, public health and safety awareness campaigns and media outreach targeted toward young people and those too young to legally buy, grow and use cannabis.
And in Leduc, city officials decided to take a classic approach: a billboard advertisement featuring a character they thought would get through to young children. Never mind that virtually every precedent has solicited ridicule and derision—remember Stoner Sloth?
But from a certain perspective, Leduc did too well. They overshot their mark. They were trying to get through to kids to warn them against using cannabis. Instead, they created one of the cutest looking weed mascots in recent memory, prompting fears the character would attract young people to cannabis, not deter them from it.
Buddy Campaign Outrages Canadian Parents
That character goes by the name of “Buddy”. Buddy is a cartoon depiction of a cannabis bud, dressed up as a police officer. Arranged almost like a peacock, Buddy’s body is a cannabis nug, while fanned out behind him are marijuana leaves. Buddy sports a blue police officer’s hat with a yellow badge and his blue hands are holding a clipboard that says “RULES”.
But it would seem that viewers of the billboard ad thought Buddy was telling them that Cannabis Rules! Not about Alberta’s rules regarding legal cannabis, the large, bold “cannabis is not for children” message notwithstanding.
City officials say they received a good number of positive comments about the ad. But these were drastically outweighed by the vociferousness of the negative comments. Negative comments came mostly from parents. They worried their kids would see Buddy and think he was really cute—and by extension, that consuming weed was okay.
This feedback baffled Leduc officials, who said it never once occurred to them that Buddy would be seen as promoting weed to children. But at this week’s city council meeting, Leduc decided to scrap the Buddy advertisement.
However, as they say, any press is good press. And Leduc Spokeswoman Nikki Booth says Buddy at least succeeded at sparking a public conversation about legal cannabis in the community and the broader region. Booth told reporters that the Leduc website had received 4,000 hits following the Buddy reveal. In all of their previous efforts to educate Leduc about legal weed, their website had just 85 visitors.