As advertising executives across the country pull what’s left of their hair out trying to sell enough adspace to keep main stream print media from completely going under, the one major money market that they have completely left untapped is medical marijuana. Until now, that is.
You may recall, it was just three short months ago when CBS pulled paid-for Weedmaps advertisements off of Times Square billboards just minutes before they were scheduled to be unveiled. But times, and opinions, are changing when it comes to weed, and now the New York Times has announced that it will run the publication’s first full page advertisement for what they refer to as the “consumer cannabis” market.
Instead of Weedmaps blazing the trail in the Big Apple, competing website www.leafly.com seems to have beat them to the punch and will release a full page color ad this weekend in the Sunday Edition of the Times.
“Leafly”, as it is commonly referred to, began modestly as a marijuana review site, where registered users and guests could participate in a sort of crowd sourced cannabis database, researching strains before they tried them themselves, and then adding their experience afterwards.
Before long, the site expanded to allow for the posting of medical marijuana dispensaries, their menus, and of course customer reviews. Some yuppies are beginning to refer to it as “The Yelp for weed”, though the same half-baked analogy has been attributed to Weedmaps before as well in the main stream media.
On average, the Seattle-based company sees over 4 million unique visitors to its site each month, and they say that those numbers are growing by 10% each and every month. Over 1.5 million users have downloaded their mobile app
Already well-known by pie-eyed web-surfers in the Big Apple, Leafly’s full page ad in the New York Times features the tagline “Just Say Know”, and aims to drive home a few key points to its audience in the wake of the passage of the Compassionate Care Act back on July 7th:
– Marijuana truly is used for a variety of medicinal purposes, and certain strains can provide significant relief for certain ailments
– If can benefit everyone; from you, to your neighbor, to the lady jogging around the block
– There is a professionally built and maintained resource where people can go to get accurate information about cannabis, without many of the stereotypes commonly associated with it
That is the point behind the #JustSayKnow campaign, in its brilliant spinoff of Nancy Reagan’s decades-long plea for us all to “Just Say No”.
A spokesperson for Leafly says that the ad has been in the works for 18 months, and was called into service in reaction to Governor Cuomo’s signing of the new medical marijuana laws in New York state, as well as in reaction to the Times’ groundbreaking endorsement for the legalization of marijuana released last week.
Brian Kennedy is the CEO of Leafly, and has seen a lot of changes since launching the company in 2010 and helping it grow to the 25 employee powerhouse of information that it is today. He is excited for the path that Leafly has taken so far, and he seems equally excited about the path that New York is on with medical marijuana, stating, “We’re in full support of New York’s Compassionate Care Act. As the walls of prohibition crumble, patients need the type of reliable, mainstream information about cannabis that only Leafly provides. Eight out of ten Americans agree that medical cannabis should be legal for patients. Leafly is here for those patients.”
In addition to the history-making ad, Leafly has launched a new portal to welcome what it expects to be a new wave of New Yorkers on a page created just for them at http://www.leafly.com/ny
The ad itself is understated and painstakingly inoffensive, remaining tasteful and informative top to bottom.
|leafly.com ad scheduled to run in the Sunday Edition of the New York Times|
In 1966, the New York Times said that pot was “not harmless”.
In 1971, it devolved further, labeling cannabis a “dangerous drug”.
It may have taken them the better part of half a century since then to get on the right side of history, but it appears that they have finally arrived.
If you subscribe to the theory that marijuana became illegal due to its association with hemp, which threatened to bankrupt newspaper magnates who were heavily invested in deforestation to make their paper, then you may find it more than a little ironic that marijuana advertising may very well save those same newspapers from extinction.