The Grapevine

TV's First Recreational Marijuana Advertisement Put On Hold In Colorado

marijuana
TV's first recreational marijuana ad was slated to air July 20, but has since been put on hold. Ebtesam Ahmed, CC BY 2.0.

Denver television station and ABC affiliate KMGH-Channel 7 planned to air the first commercial advertising the sale of recreational cannabis, but has since put its plans on hold. The two possible ads, which were slated for a 10:35 p.m. slot on July 20 during Jimmy Kimmel Live, are now being debated by E.W. Scripps’ lawyers.

According to the Denver Post, KMGH-Channel 7 planned to allow a 15-second spot for The Green Solution, a marijuana dispensary company with a few locations throughout the state, and Neos, a company that sells vape pens filled with cannabis oil. The commercial for The Green Solution was going to feature several real people (in place of actors) speaking in familiar Denver locations and holding signs that read, “I am a construction worker” or “I’m a purchasing manager,” with a final sign saying “I shop at The Green Solution.”

The ad for Neos was also intended to be centered on Colorado as opposed to the actual product, with healthy young people shown hiking and dancing. A printed graphic would then caution viewers that the product was only for Colorado residents, 21 and older.

Both ads were selected by KMGH-Channel 7 because they complied with Colorado’s strict advertising laws, which state that people featured in a commercial cannot be using the product, and that the ad must be aired after 10 p.m.

“There’s no product at all. You’re not allowed to show any cannabis at all. It’s more brand-focused,” Olivia Mannix of Cannabrand, the marketing company representing Neos, told The Cannabist. “It shows various shots of recreation in Colorado: People camping, on a hike, portraying a cannabis consumer who is active and healthy.”

Mannix also notes that Neos chose the 10:35 p.m. spot to make sure the targeted audience would be 21 and older. “ABC provided us with statistics from Nielsen, the leading global information and measurement company, stating that the affected area’s audience is more than 90 percent over the age of 21,” she said. “After acquiring this data, we knew we had found the perfect space for televised cannabis marketing.”

As for representatives from KMGH, Brad Remington, the vice president and general manager of the channel, told the Denver Post that they were ready to show the advertisement. “In the old days, Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke slept in separate beds. Now we have Viagra ads. Things evolve,” he said.

Remington also noted that the station is being very smart about the way it presents the advertisement, and which advertisements will be permitted. “The world is changing, evolving, and we need to constantly take a look at things. After careful deliberations, we have elected to accept ads from what is now a legal business in Colorado and apply some of the same restrictions and standards that we do for similar adult products, like liquor,” he said.

Despite the ABC affiliate’s willingness to air these ads, they still seem to have run into some legal trouble. While it is difficult to say why the advertisements have been put on hold, it is likely because of complications that inevitably arise when a substance still regarded as illegal on a federal level is advertised on federally licensed airwaves.

In the meantime, other stations in Denver seem to be straying away from Channel 7’s bold decision. When talking to Mark Cornetta, the head of KUSA-Channel 9, the Denver Post found that they had no plans to schedule any cannabis commercials for their ad spots.

“That’s not to say if the federal government decides to legalize marijuana,” says Cornetta.

It seems that for now, strides in advertising cannabis, even in states where recreational use is legal, will have to be put on pause.

 

 

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