K2 Zombie DC

Facilitating Crucial Dialogues


Improving Health
and Emotional Wellbeing

A continued rise in synthetic marijuana use across the District of Columbia warranted an extension of the K2 Zombie DC: Danger: Fake Weed + U = Zombie” campaign. As the agency responsible for substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery services, the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) partnered with Octane to develop new creative concepts for the public awareness campaign.


Findings from a report from the DC Prevention Center showed that the average age of a youth synthetic marijuana user in DC is 13 ½ years old.


Octane held a series of focus groups to understand youth’s perceptions of K2 and find out which messages would resonate with them.

Key Findings

  • K2 is very easy to find and sold at some convenient stores
  • Youth on probation use K2 as it is undetectable by drug tests
  • The bright packaging is attractive to youth


  • Educate youth and families about the dangers of synthetic marijuana
  • Facilitate community action on K2 through youth-led and adult supported prevention strategies
  • Provide resources, education and support around fake weed

The Creative

The harmful chemicals in K2 can induce vomiting, agitation, confusion, tremors, seizures and a loss of motor skills. When Octane surveyed DC youth, they could agree on one thing, a zombie was the best metaphor to represent the side effects of using K2.

In 2013 Octane launched the synthetic marijuana campaign, “K2 Zombie DC – Danger: Fake Weed + U = Zombie”.  Octane used a brand-new website, social media engagement, Metro and Metro Bus ads, guerrilla marketing, digital ads, and print ads in local newspapers to educate youth about the dangers of K2.

Resource materials were updated and created for the campaign, which included palm cards for parents and youth, discussion guides for parents, and posters. The resource materials were also translated into Spanish, Amharic, and Chinese.

The End Result

Established in May of 2013, the “K2 Zombie DC”website was built to inform and deter DC youth and adults from using fake weed (K2). The site features games, quizzes and resources that coach youth and adults on the dangers of K2.


Overall, the campaign received a largely positive response from the community, particularly from parents and caregivers who were not as familiar with synthetic marijuana. This is evidenced by a post-campaign evaluation to measure effectiveness and awareness of “K2 Zombie DC.

YES. Get synthetic weed out of people’s hands. It can/will kill you. GREAT CAMPAIGN!

YES, YES, YES; I saw this on a bus, many buses in Alexandria, I have tried to promote it ever since. Thank You.

If I could just help 1 person to quit this crap before it’s too late… I think I would feel a little better.

In less than 2 years, “K2 Zombie DC” effectively raised awareness about the dangers of K2 among youth and parents. The results of the post campaign evaluation show:

0 %
of parents surveyed knew about the K2 Zombie DC campaign
0 %
of parents aid the campaign caught their attention and made them want to act
followers on K2 Zombie DC social media accounts
Related Case Studies


Our Solutions Provide Real Value So You Can Achieve Your Goals.