It may be awhile before national corporations blatantly target the stoner market with mainstream advertising campaigns, but many companies have found a way to infiltrate the late-night psyche of the cannabis cult insurgence by producing commercials with subliminal messages aimed at turning the marijuana munchies into big business.
Fast food chains are the usual suspects: junk food slingers like Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Denny’s and Carl’s Jr. are all vying for the attention of the American high life with clever advertisements produced to keep late-night smokers lining up at the local drive-thru.
Yet, it’s not just the fast food nation attempting to creep into the minds and wallets of weed enthusiasts. Spirit Airlines recently introduced a series of ads informing eager marijuana tourists that, “The no smoking sign is off” in Colorado and to, “Get mile high” by taking advantage of discounted fares.
Marketing experts say that companies like Spirit want to stay smart in their efforts to reach the newly legalized marijuana market, while skating around the politics -- other companies want to avoid it like the plague. However, experts agree that the public can expect to see more advertising geared towards the pot-friendly consumer in the future.
“Many brands in this country aren’t going anywhere near the legalization issue. For most brands, that’s very smart,” said Timothy Calkins, marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Some brands, though, can push this. We’re going to see more brands take advantage of this and use this as a way to define themselves. Spirit Airlines has a certain character and, as a result, I think this works for Spirit. But we’re not going to see United (Airlines) embrace the same idea anytime soon.”
Spirit’s latest campaign may have been successful, but the Federal Aviation Administration was not impressed. In fact, there is speculation that the federal agency could take measures to ensure the ads are never seen again.
“If this (campaign) continues in any way, Spirit will have a regulatory issue to deal with,” said Robert Dilenschneider, crisis management expert and head of the Dilenschneider Group. “Air space is controlled by different governing bodies in the US and it won’t be long before legal and regulatory forces exert themselves. The FAA will likely intervene and halt the campaign because it violates regulatory standards.”
Regardless of alcohol, sex and violence being glamorized ever day in American advertising, marijuana opponents say they are convinced a revolt is imminent if companies do not stop marketing their products and services to stoners.
“Parents who may not have taken interest in the debate before, all of the sudden want to take interest (when they see these TV commercials),” said anti-pot blowhard Kevin Sabet, co-founder of Project SAM. “They’re realizing it’s not what they voted for or what they bargained for. So I think it’s a very risky move for the companies that use advertising. They risk a backlash.”
Like it or not, marijuana is moving into the mainstream. And despite the conservative ideologies of our opposing forces, we at HIGH TIMES can promise you that society will not crumble under the influence of advertisements portraying stoners eating tacos.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73