Seattle police already had one of the most fascinating and amusing—not to mention relevant and informative—law-enforcement Twitter accounts in the country. But the department demonstrated again this weekend that engaging with your audience goes well beyond witty posts in social media.
Following the legalization of marijuana in Washington last fall, Seattle police decided to hand out 1,000 bags of Doritos to attendees of the three-day Hempfest pot festival—adding stickers to the bags that brilliantly reminded partakers of the do's and don'ts of marijuana use, even when it's legal. "Warning: The contents of this package are as delicious as they appear," the sticker read, while giving pointers like "Don't drive while high," "Don't use pot in public" and "Do listen to Dark Side of the Moon at a reasonable volume."
Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, a former police reporter who consults with the Seattle PD's social-media team, is credited with the Twitter account's wonderful conversational tone, and was also involved in the Doritos stunt. "All the pot stuff has involved a lot of brainstorming, a lot of late nights, and a lot of Doritos," he tells Forbes of the communications strategy around the issue.
Why Doritos? "We literally considered everything but Bugles. That would've just been cruel," he says. "We settled on Doritos pretty quickly, and then debated the merits of Cool Ranch vs. Nacho Cheese. I wish they still made Jumpin' Jack Flash, but that's just me. I mean, I think that's an actual flavor and not just a Whoopi Goldberg movie, but my snack chip memory isn't what it used to be."
Doritos wasn't involved in the planning of the stunt but didn't seem concerned about this particular product placement, says Spangenthal-Lee. "Doritos makes taco shells for Taco Bell, which pretty much exclusively caters to the stoned-and-up-late-crowd at this point," he says, "so I don't think so."
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 17, 2013