Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ad agencies prepare for the legal marijuana market

The slogan, “This Bud's for You” may already be claimed, but that isn't stopping advertising executives from dreaming about getting in on the burgeoning sales of legal medical and recreational marijuana – an industry estimated to already be generating revenues in the billions of dollars.

With medical marijuana sales legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and with Colorado and Washington legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults as of this year, many advertisers and marketers are honing their skills and preparing for a universally legal pot market.

Indeed, some industry observers say “stoner”-focused advertising is already here. Fast-food chain Taco Bell, a division of restaurant giant Yum! Brands (YUM), advertises its “fourth meal”menu to young consumers with the slogan, “you're out, you're hungry.” It also has a jingle that sings the praises of tending to your “late night munchies.”

Some marijuana entrepreneurs, like former Microsoft (MSFT) executive Jamen Shively are even establishing their own brands of cannabis in hopes of cashing on the growing business.

Mass-culture advertising of cannabis products “is going to happen quicker than you think,” said Greg Wagner, a former long-time ad executive who is now a lecturer and internship director in the marketing department at the University of Denver's Daniels College of Business.

Wagner believes the ad agencies are already working on how to counter the negative “Reefer Madness” and “Cheech & Chong” stereotypes of cannabis and its users.

“There is baggage there,” he said. “But if you think about it, there was probably baggage back in the Prohibition days, when [alcohol] became legal again.” Continue Reading....


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