The first ad for marijuana since the legalisation of the herb in some American states has been pulled due to legal concerns.
The ad was due to play on Denver station in Colorado KMGH-Channel 7 on Monday night, however per reports in the Denver Post, the ads were put on hold on Friday.
The ad for marijuana company Neos – which creates electronic vaporisation oil infused with cannabis – doesn’t actually use the words ‘marijuana’ or ‘weed’ or ‘cannabis’. Instead it uses words like ‘recreate’ responsibly’.
Cannabrand, the marketing agency behind the ad, told B&T what had happened.
“The TV spot we created, in collaboration with production house Zerosun Creative, for vape pen company Neos was scheduled to air this past Monday at 10:32pm during the Jimmy Kimmel slot,” said Cannabrand’s co-founder and creative director, Jennifer DeFalco.
“We were assured by ABC Channel 7 that 93 per cent of the audience would be over the age of 21, which is in line with Colorado’s Amendment 64 guidelines for cannabis advertising, at least 70 per cent of the audience must be over the age of 21.
“Neos’ commercial also did not show any product, and it did not use words like ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’. It was a very subtle, branded lifestyle spot.
“The controversy was that the airwaves are federally regulated by the FCC – and cannabis is still a federally illegal substance. So, at the very last minute the ads were yanked by ABC Channel 7.
“We are not sure when our clients’ TV spots will be able to run, since there is still such a gray area. As an agency, we really need clarification on the regulations surrounding cannabis marketing in states where marijuana is legal.”
Colorado was the first state to legalise recreational marijuana use in early 2014.
In March this year, we spoke to Cannabrand to find out the rules behind advertising marijuana.
“The rules vary per state, but for recreational marijuana in Colorado, for instance, the general rule of thumb is that advertising cannot reach an audience where over 30 per cent are under the age of 21,” explained DeFalco at the time.
“Outdoor advertising (ie. billboards) is completely off limits, and we cannot make any safety claims about cannabis or cannabis-infused products.”
One of the common pitfalls cannabis brands fall into when marketing their products is the absence of a well thought-out brand strategy.
“Without a solid brand strategy, advertising loses its effectiveness and messaging can get lost,” said DeFalco. “We always make sure to sit down with our clients to develop a long-term strategy as a point of reference for all marketing efforts, to maximise the return on investment of each campaign.”