advertising Archives - Green Market Report

Debra BorchardtJune 29, 2022
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6min7421

Broadcasters have been notorious for their refusal to air cannabis ads. Even in states where the product is legal, advertisers found themselves being turned down as the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) took the stance that a federally illegal product could not be advertised.

Law360 reported that “House lawmakers tacked language onto a Federal Communication Commission spending bill for next year to block the FCC from trying to prevent broadcasters from running ads for cannabis products in states with legalized marijuana.” Editor & Publisher Magazine reported, “Under the language, the FCC could not use any of the funds appropriated to the agency for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 to deny broadcasters a license renewal or station sale application, or require an early license renewal application to be filed, in reaction to a station’s taking cannabis ads in legal jurisdictions.”

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, the House Appropriations Committee advanced the FY 2023 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill which included language that would prevent the FCC from taking administrative action against broadcasters that accept cannabis advertisements consistent with the law of the state or jurisdiction in which the station is licensed.

NAB spokesman Alex Siciliano said, “We are pleased to see that this bipartisan language has advanced in the House today. As the vast majority of states have legalized cannabis in some form, today marks a long overdue step toward finally allowing broadcasters to receive equal treatment regarding cannabis advertising that other forms of media have had for years. While we welcome today’s progress, local broadcasters will continue to work with all policymakers towards a broader resolution of this competitive disparity and in support of our unique service to local communities.”

2023 House Bill

The 2023 House bill that covers financial services and general government spending cleared the full Appropriations Committee last Friday. Law360 wrote, “Appropriators in the House hope to see the mandate on the FCC attached as a policy rider to a $390 million operating budget for the fiscal year starting in October, which would also raise the agency’s budget by $8 million over this year. The FCC has asked for a $16 million boost.”

Cannabis companies typically advertise on billboards, print media, some social media (depending on the company and platform) and cable or internet streaming channels. However local television and radio companies have been prevented from running these ads. Cannabis advertising is projected to total $18.5 billion in the U.S. this year.

The New York State Broadcasters Association President David Donovan said, “We are grateful to House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, Subcommittee Chairman Mike Quigley and members of the Committee for recognizing the unfairness of the present situation with respect to cannabis advertising. The provision in this House appropriations bill is a major step forward for leveling the playing field for local broadcasters. We believe the law of the state in which a station is licensed should determine whether a station can accept cannabis advertising if they so choose. We look forward to working with members of Congress and the Administration to help restore parity between local broadcasters and other media outlets.”

He added, “We believe the law of the state in which a station is licensed should determine whether a station can accept cannabis advertising if they so choose. We look forward to working with members of Congress and the Administration to help restore parity between local broadcasters and other media outlets.”

Just the First Step

While the move is seen as a positive one, it must still pass through the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill will then move to the House floor for consideration in July and then goes on to the Senate. The NYSBA said that the Senate poses additional problems, not just for its language but the entire appropriations process. “The appropriations process is notoriously complex, which means the bill may get stalled. Congress is likely to adopt an interim budget through a continuing resolution. At some point, perhaps after the mid-term elections, there will be a final vote. Even if it passes, the legislation is not a “silver bullet.” This is because appropriations bills apply for a one-year period and would only last for FY 2023, which is scheduled to begin on October 1, 2022, and run through September 30, 2023. It would have to be renewed next year for FY 2024 and every year thereafter. As a practical matter, once it is included, it is like to be renewed every year.”


Tabitha ClayApril 27, 2018
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In an effort to stay ahead of regulators and encourage ethical advertising practices in the industry, the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB), the only self-regulatory organization for the U.S. licensed cannabis businesses, published advertising guidelines for industry players. The NACB Advertising National Standard was published Wednesday, April 25, 2018; the organization is accepting comments from members and the public until May 25, 2018. Comments will be reviewed and considered, and it’s possible that the standard will change as a result of public comment.

“Advertising was among the first areas our members identified as critical to addressing for NACB National Standards because it’s through marketing that the industry presents itself to the world,” said Andrew Kline, President of the NACB and a former federal prosecutor. “We are extremely proud that our members took their responsibility to protect consumers so seriously, going even deeper in prohibiting certain content than regulators might expect them to.

According to NACB, the standard is “designed to help NACB members protect consumers and demonstrate to regulators, financial institutions, and the public that NACB members operate at the highest levels of ethics and responsibility.”

Taylor West, Senior Communications Director at Cohnnabis, a division of Cohn Marketing and former Deputy Director at the National Cannabis Industry Association applauded the efforts of NACB, but did express some concerns.

“Any time you’re trying to create standards for an industry it’s difficult,” said West. “I also think that it’s very smart as an industry to adopt some of these voluntary standards; recognizing that there’s going to be a time when governmental mandates are going to come in and if the industry has already agreed to responsible restrictions then they’re going to be in a better position. So I applaud them for that.”

The restrictions set forth in the standard are indeed stringent, with some key parts of the standard that restrict advertising audiences significantly more than the standards in the similar alcohol industry. Alcohol industry standards restrict advertising to mediums where at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be of legal purchase age. Alternatively, the new standard from NACB limits cannabis advertisers to markets where at least 85 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be at least age 21.

When asked about the audience limitations in the new standards, West expressed some surprise and concern as well. “These are definitely more limiting than I think some people would have expected,” said West. “Especially when you compare them, you know, like you said, to the alcohol industry, and also frankly to the restrictions that some local governments have already put in place.”

The standards also ban the consumption of cannabis from advertising, something that might place significant burdens on cannabis companies as they launch media campaigns. According to West, “The restriction on preventing advertisements from depicting the consumption of cannabis, seems a little extreme as well.”  

That’s not to say that West isn’t fully in support of the industry self-regulating to prevent advertising to children and teens, she just sees the complete ban on consumption in advertising as a solution to a problem that might not actually exist yet. “I think it’s important to adopt responsible practices,” explained West, “but I also think it’s important for the industry to be able to work in a way that doesn’t unreasonably restrict them when there’s not an indication that there’s a particular problem.”

NACB is clearly working very diligently to prevent underage cannabis use, and to ensure that marketing within the industry isn’t aimed at kids. Other key portions of the standards include eliminating any offers of gifts or prizes to incentivize purchase as well as restricting the use of toys, cartoon characters, animals or celebrity endorsements in advertising.

“The work we are doing as members of the NACB in creating sensible national standards for our industry will set the stage for the future of the legal cannabis industry in this country,” said CEO Patricia Noonan of NACB member and Colorado-based Wonderleaf. “The Advertising National Standard will one day serve as the definitive set of rules for the marketing of cannabis and  proud we took such care in making it comprehensive to best serve the public good.”

Whether or not the standards will remain as originally published or will be subject to change will depend in large part on industry feedback. According to NACB, after the feedback is considered, the standard may be revised after which time members will vote on the new standard.

 


Debra BorchardtJanuary 29, 2018
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Advertising Week and PRØHBTD MEDIA have extended their exclusive strategic partnership to further develop content and consulting services for brands in the cannabis space and beyond. The two companies first teamed up last year at Advertising Week in New York where PROHBTD impressed the New York crowd with its video stories on emerging cannabis brands like the chocolatier Defonce.

The partnership is starting strong with a video docuseries called “Branding Bud,” along with an editorial platform and a podcast series that will examine cannabis brands. There will be a special focus on what goes on behind the scenes of building a brand in the cannabis world and how that effects design, marketing, and diversity.

PRØHBTD MEDIA CEO and founder, Drake Sutton-Shearer, said, “We’re honored that Advertising Week has chosen to continue working with us. With the cannabis industry positioned to exponentially grow beyond $40 billion within the next five years, cannabis brands need help telling their stories to mainstream audiences and potential acquirers. Mainstream brands also need guidance to communicate with cannabis consumers in genuine and brand-safe ways. This partnership enables PRØHBTD to continue our mission of connecting brands with consumers via the Advertising Week platform.”
Advertising Week APAC, which takes place from 30 July and 2 August 2018, will see the debut of the “Cannabis in Australia” sessions to help educate and introduce leading cannabis brands to the Australian market, before returning to the United States for Advertising Week in New York in October 2018.
“The Advertising Week platform has always been about helping brands and marketers navigate what’s coming next in the technology and marketing space,” said Lance Pillersdorf, Advertising Week co-founder, and COO. “We’re excited to expand our partnership with PRØHBTD MEDIA to ensure the Week continues to bring a fresh perspective and provocative global conversations to delegates all around the world.”
Advertising for cannabis companies is a huge challenge since many of the traditional outlets are off limits. Cannabis companies are finding that building a brand name is harder than normal since even social media outlets reject the most innocuous ads. Last year’s cannabis sessions at Ad Week in New York were heavily attended as there was a large desire to learn more about cannabis branding.

Debra BorchardtNovember 2, 2017
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The Federal government says marijuana is illegal but is sanctioning cannabis advertising in an airport. Organa Brands, one of the largest privately owned cannabis companies launched the first ever in-airport public service announcement (PSA) about cannabis. SecurityPoint Media is the company behind the campaign and whose programs have been vetted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The campaign will debut in airports in Southern California with branded trays across all terminals at security checkpoints. The message will read, “Cannabis is legal, traveling with it is not. Leave it in California.” It is expected to be seen by 15 million people.

Organa Brands approached SecurityPoint Media with the idea and is paying for the PSA. The airport has the ultimate say over the campaign and its wording. “The TSA doesn’t get involved in ad copy,” said Joe Ambrefe, Chief Executive Officer of Security Point. “All the airport people approved of it,” he added. Ambrefe did concede that the TSA does have its eye on it and would step in if it was problematic. “It’s a positive message,” he said.

TSA officers do not search for marijuana, but if they observe it can refer the matter to a law enforcement officer. The TSA was established in 2001 following the September 11 attacks to detect terrorism and was moved to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

“When we first came up with the plan, we thought there was no chance that the airport or the TSA would ever approve us running a PSA in this space. We are still so amazed to see them in use at the airport,” said Brittany Hallett, Marketing Director at Organa Brands. Organa Brands believes this public service announcement will lead the movement for the next generation of cannabis advertising and legitimize their position as a cannabis powerhouse.

“This is a step in the right direction toward further acceptance of cannabis as a mainstream business,” says Jeremy von Heidl, Co-founder, and President of Organa Brands International. “We wanted to get out ahead of recreational legalization in California with a meaningful public service announcement. The security trays have been a great way to reach our consumers and the reaction has been overall very positive. I think it’s a huge sign of changing perceptions around cannabis that you can walk into an airport and see our brands and our messaging in security trays at the checkpoint.”

The 12-month campaign is seeking to educate cannabis consumers as California enters its first year of legalized adult use marijuana. In a statement, the company said, “By running a public service announcement in a major airport for the first year that California offers recreational marijuana, Organa Brands hopes to ensure the focus at the security checkpoint remains safety and security.”

Hallett said, “The message the trays carry is an important one. We’re very excited for the public to have better access to this information as we move into a new recreational market in California.”


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