Pot Ads Buzzing Down the Road? Media Gets Stoned

Pot Ads

“Smoke pot for a treat instead of a treatment!” “A little pleasure you’ve got coming.” “Lord sakes, I do believe I’ll try one.” “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.” If those slogans sound familiar it is because they are. They are classic slogans from the classic days of cigarette advertising. Similar slogans might be just down the road as pot ads may be imminent. In the latest development about pot ads, however, the media got stoned.

In fact, the major media thought they and TV viewers were going to get their first puff of marijuana advertising on television this past weekend. Despite affirmative coverage in the media, however, the ads never ran. The media was responding to a press release issued from MarijuanaDoctors.com, which is a company that claims to connect patients with doctors who prescribe medical marijuana.

The press release promised that the firm was about to buy ads through a division of Comcast and for the first time ever a major American network was allowing the advertising of medical marijuana.

The company, in fact, did create a spot, which was uploaded to YouTube. The ad showed a shady looking individual selling sushi with a voice over telling the viewer that if they wouldn’t buy sushi from this individual why would they buy marijuana from him. The ad was presenting a safe source to purchase medical marijuana.

In fact, the ads did not air. That didn’t stop major news organizations such as the Chicago Tribune, Time and ABC News from regurgitating the press release and reporting it as fact. Even a CNN newscast alluded to the press release as did NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Comcast, however, which owns NBC, says it never ran that ad or any pot ads on any part of its cable system.

What happened? Seems like MarijuanaDoctors.com got ahead of itself and issued its press release before it was sure the ad was going to air. The press jumped the gun too. Comcast never approved the spot.

MarijuanaDoctors.com has issued a second press release admitting that the spot and the campaign has not launched and would try to air the spot at a later date.

Despite this media hiccup, however, it will not be long before medical marijuana advertising is a reality. Ditto with pot, itself, in states where it is legal such as Colorado and Washington State.

There are still hurdles to overcome before pot advertising becomes airborne. While it’s legal in two states and medical marijuana is legal in 20 states, marijuana is not legal at the federal level.

Advertising industry observers say pot advertising is inevitable as many investors see this as a billion dollar industry of the future where fortunes will be made. It won’t just be the marijuana that will be in commercials. Weed will sprout an umbrella industry of accessories, e-cigarettes, rolling papers and dispensaries. Brands will be launched and ads will appear on TV, online and in print. One day there may even be a SuperBowl ad for pot.

It is a safe bet that pot ads are buzzing down the road? This time, however, the mass media got a little stoned.

By Jim McCullaugh


Ad Age
Denver Post