Be a Smart Ash.

05/09 2016

There are only so many opportunities that a copywriter gets to do a play on the word “ass” when working for a legitimate government organization. But hey, dreams do come true. And this time it’s thanks to Kazia Jankowski Consulting (KJC) for bringing me on to coin an educational campaign for Denver Parks and Recreation. Introducing: Be a Smart Ash.

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You see, something buggy is coming to the Mile High City, and it’s called the emerald ash borer. These little creepers have been working their way across the state and they’re on course to hit the Denver ash tree population in a hurry. Unfortunately, it’s not a question of “if,” but “when?”

KJC and GroundFloor Media partnered to help create a campaign that got ash owners’ attention without using scare tactics. They wanted something lighthearted. Something anti-doomsday. Something that said “These bugs are a-comin’, but don’t worry, here’s how to deal.”

The Be a Smart Ash campaign officially launched on Monday, May 1, 2016 with an announcement by Mayor Michael Hancock himself in Denver’s City Park. I’m so proud to have come up with this campaign and am thrilled with how GroundFloor Media beautifully brought it to life.

A few of the campaigns that didn’t make the cut:

  1. Being Bored Happens // It’s Okay To Be Bored // Bored In Denver?

Acknowledging the problem without causing alarm. Making people feel like we’re all in this together, and that being “bored” is a totally normal part of future life in Denver.

  1. Denver Treehuggers

Sniff sniff. Denver’s ashes have a rough path ahead, so let’s love them and care for them while we can. Creates a tribe for people to associate with and learn from within the Parks and Rec Department.

  1. Ash Class 101

Simple, straightforward, flexible. Could do a combination of unusual facts about ashes, plus helpful information about the emerald ash borer situation. Could buddy with ideas like “Ash the Questions” and “The Ash Facts.”

  1. Something’s Buggy

Eases the fear around this “scary” insect problem. Plays on the “buggy” language often used in reference to technology. Raises awareness that there’s a problem without taking it too seriously or raising panic.

  1. A New Treeality

Invents our own vernacular for this upcoming change to Denver’s everyday reality (or treeality, as we’ll call it). The emerald ash borer is going to change life as ash owners know it, and this makes it feel like a natural transformation, not an impending doom.