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Real CA Cannabis
CA Department of Cannabis Control

Sh*t just got Real

As a growing number of people embrace sticky icky, the California Department of Cannabis Control wanted to make sure folks knew how to find the good stuff. In partnership with Fiona Hutton & Associates we created the Real CA Cannabis campaign to educate consumers on the dangers of unregulated cannabis and make it easier than ever to find licensed dispensaries statewide.

Real CA Cannabis – The Challenge

1 — The Challenge

Cannabis is legal—the shop might not be

Nearly 60% of California adults consume cannabis, but most don’t know illegal dispensaries exist—let alone how to spot them. We needed to create a compelling and widespread campaign that equipped new, potential, and longtime cannabis consumers with the knowledge and tools to shop exclusively at licensed retailers. All the while, we had to navigate the DCC’s complex legacy regarding law enforcement and the War on Drugs in order to strike a balance that resonated with California’s diverse communities.

Real CA Cannabis – The Brand

2 — The Brand

Not your mama’s government campaign

Our mission: Make this government project sound and feel like anything but. With fresh yet familiar aesthetics, a grounded and relatable voice, and cultural references ranging from classic rock to 2010s pop, we created a campaign that felt at once new and nostalgic.

A logo for every occasion — Our responsive logo was designed to work well at every size, in every medium, and in every brand color, so we could stick it anywhere and everywhere.

Nostalgia in type form — Harkening to a classic era of advertising, we leaned into a typeface that was both visually strong and culturally synonymous with cool.

Real photography — Partnering with the talented Texas Isaiah Horatio-Valenzuela and seeking out the best stock has to offer, we crafted a raw, dynamic, and inclusive visual identity.

Real CA Cannabis – The Campaign

3 — The Campaign

Real loud

We wanted to turn the Real CA Cannabis seal into a symbol synonymous with high-quality trustworthy bud as quickly as possible, so we rolled out a massive multimedia strategy including billboards, digital ads, influencer partnerships, radio spots, and more to get Real CA Cannabis in front of millions of Californians statewide.

Concept Art — For launch we created a suite of ads concepts, each reflecting unique slices of life and value statements designed to speak to our core audiences.

Social ads — A combination of static and dynamic digital ads curated to match the tone, audience, and best practices of each platform got the Real CA Cannabis conversation going on Reddit, Meta, and Instagram—just to name a few.

PSA Video — We partnered with JComm Inc. to create a beautiful and stylized PSA video to carry the core message of the campaign.

Real CA Cannabis – The Website

4 — The Website

Find Real near you

We built the campaign site to not only provide key background information on Real CA Cannabis, but also quickly point users to our licensee search—the tool we built specifically for this campaign so Californians can easily find legal dispensaries in their area.

Physical & Digital — In addition to our licensee search tool, we also designed stylized QR codes to be displayed at physical storefronts. A quick scan tells you whether you're at a licensed dispensary.

Verify before you buy — Our intuitive licensee search features every licensed dispensary and delivery service in the state and allows users to verify that a shop is legit even before they leave the house.

Real CA Cannabis – The impact

5 — The impact

Sparking a new conversation

Real CA Cannabis elevated public awareness around regulated cannabis and highlighted licensed dispensaries in a way California has never seen before. We’re beyond excited to have been able to play a role in creating a safer and healthier cannabis industry, and we’re looking forward to more opportunities to keep moving our communities in the right direction.

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