Cannabis is the ‘smell of death’ in these scented magazine ads about driving high

The French campaign connects olfactory sense to the image of a person driving under the influence

Published On
Apr 14, 2023
Magazine ad with a car accident about to happen and the headline "On the road, death has a smell"

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French advocacy nonprofit Victimes & Citoyens (Victims & Citizens) is using cannabis-scented printing technology in a campaign against drug-impaired driving.

In France, 21% of traffic-related deaths are caused by driving under the influence of drugs such as cannabis. Victimes & Citoyens partnered with agency Fred & Farid Paris to introduce “The Smell of Death,” a campaign that uses a double-page spread in 100,000 copies of the French soccer magazine “So Foot.” The spread uses a varnish containing microcapsules that release a cannabis-like aroma when touched and depicts a man driving recklessly and about to cause an accident.

“To discover the smell of death, rub the image on the reverse side,” says the opening page. “On the road, death has a smell,” says the second page. “In France, drugs, including cannabis, contribute to 700 road fatalities annually, accounting for 21% of traffic-related deaths.”

"The image that cannabis and other drugs still unfortunately convey is one of 'coolness.' However, there is nothing cool or responsible about driving when our senses are impaired by psychoactive substances,” said Julien Thibault, president of Victimes & Citoyens.

Thibault highlights the campaign's ability to raise alarm and create an association between the scent and the dangers of drug-related driving.

Victims & Citizens and Fred & Farid Paris are considering a follow-up that would incorporate the scent of alcohol to further emphasize the dangers of impaired driving.


Apr 14, 2023
Client :
Victimes & Citoyens
Agency :
Executive Creative Director :
Olivier Lefebvre
Creative Director :
Yann Rougeron
Copywriter :
Grégory Tortes
Art Director :
Thomas Martin-Lalande
AD Assistant :
Marguerite Werkmeister
Brand Supervisor :
Julien Thibault
Agency Supervisor :
Julien Grimaldi
Agency Supervisor :
Cloé Jouteau
Agency Supervisor :
Eloïse Latrobe
Agency Producer :
Maud Whittle
Agency Producer :
Esmira Mirabdullajewa
Media :
Franck Annese

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