Drug Free Kids recruits ‘practice kids’

The non-profit is giving parents a chance to overcome their fears by rehearsing how they talk to their children about cannabis.


With recreational cannabis legalized, Drug Free Kids is helping parents prepare to talk to their kids about weed and keep it out of the hands of Canada’s youth.

A new video begins with a mother having a conversation about weed with a teenage kid in an over-dramatic fashion. The “practice kid” reacts by offering advice on how to go about the conversation when she does it with her own child. The video drives to an online platform that helps parents better prepare themselves for having a cannabis talk of their own.

Marc Paris, executive director of Drug Free Kids Canada, says the goal of the campaign is to “empower” parents to overcome their fears of having a conversation about cannabis with their kids.

A national study by the organization last year showed that not disappointing their parents could be a motivator for teens to wait until they reach legal age to try cannabis. And many parents let insecurities about not knowing what to say, concerns about their own credibility or potentially damaging their relationship with their kids keep them from talking about cannabis.

The new campaign is building on a “rehearsal” concept Drug Free Kids debuted in 2017, where campaign videos featured a parent practising what he would say to his son and how to answer potentially awkward questions about his own previous drug use in the mirror.

In addition to the campaign spot, Drug Free Kids and FCB created a series of video capsules directly addressing responses parents might want to expect from their kids – such as “it’s better than drinking” or “it’s legal now” – and how to respond to them. It will also be hosting monthly live-streamed sessions on Facebook Live through July, so parents can ask their own questions and get advice straight from the source. Drug Free Kids recruited real teens and trained them on how to connect with parents before featuring them in the capsule videos and live streams.

“Parents aren’t taught how to parent and have those tough conversations with their teens,” says Sylvain Dufresne, head of creative at FCB Montreal. “But what if we could give them the chance to rehearse – a chance to test the cannabis conversation with other teens, and get tips from these experts on how to navigate it successfully? That’s the whole point of this campaign: to give parents that opportunity.”

Drug Free Kids worked with FCB Canada on the campaign, which is running across TV,  radio, print, OOH, social and digital platforms.