Early 2019, CBS refused to run an ad by Acreage Holdings because its contents supported the legalization of medical marijuana in the US. In the aftermath, commentators lamented the fear mongering and stereotyping that cannabis advertising faces. Notably, advertisement publishers seem unwilling to go against the grain to carry such adverts. It is because society is yet to accept the overt use of marijuana.
Why is it so challenging?
Top of the list of reasons why cannabis advertising is difficult in the US, and much of the rest of the world, is the legal status of the bud. So far, only 22 states have recognized weed as a substance that people can use for medicinal purposes. However, only 11 have fully legalized the substance, which implies that people can use it for recreational purposes in addition to medicinal use.
At the federal level, the government neither accepts marijuana usage medicinally nor recreationally. The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) categorizes marijuana under Schedule I. According to the DEA, this is the category of substances “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Therefore, advertisers cannot find advertising media because of the fear of reprisal by the government.
Another reason advertising media cannot take cannabis advertising clients has to do with the stigma and stereotype around marijuana. According to a Hubspot report, cannabis marketers might be complicit in perpetuating the stereotype. Notably, the marketers continually use slang terms like “stoner,” “getting stoned,” and “reefer,” among others. These terms, the article said, help to convince the broader public that marijuana is suitable for a few individuals who have no problem ruining their health.
In-the-hand marketing offers a great cannabis advertising alternative
Nonetheless, cannabis marketing is still possible if advertisers get creative and use in-the-hand marketing techniques like bar coasters. The beauty of bar coaster advertising is that there is no chance of running into enthusiastic audiences that might chafe at the sight of a cannabis-focused ad. Besides, it is common for bar patrons to be marijuana users. As such, chances of the right person seeing the cannabis ad on the coasters are astronomic.
Alternatively, people come to bars to relax and wind down a long day with a bottle of alcohol. As such, the patrons are in a relaxing mood. One where they can exchange ideas and opinions about anything, including emotive issues like cannabis. The audience in bars, therefore, is right for cannabis marketing. Subsequently, bar coasters are the best option available to advertisers to sell cannabis-related products.