• Legal Marijuana Sparks Explosion in Billboard Ads

    Cody J. Riebe, Public Relations & Content Specialist at BillboardsIn

    Marijuana is a big business. It is now recreationally legal in nine states and medicinally in thirty. It’s estimated that it will be a $21 billion industry by 2021. This is good news for the out-of-home industry. Here at BillboardsIn, we’re seeing an explosion of requests for marijuana-related billboards. In fact, one out of every fifty requests we receive is from a marijuana-related business. So, why are billboards so attractive to these businesses?

    As pot becomes legal in more states, it creates an increase in dispensaries and cannabis-related businesses. These new businesses want to advertise, and billboards are a proven method for reaching local consumers. They’re especially effective at rapidly building brand awareness and activation, which is exactly what these newer dispensaries are looking for. Not only are billboards highly effective, they are also one of the few methods available to advertise marijuana businesses. The fact of the matter is, even in states where marijuana is legal, businesses are hitting a wall when they start looking at their advertising opportunities.

    No-Go Digital

    Digital ads are generally a no-go for cannabis-related businesses. Despite the vast majority of Americans being in favor of marijuana legalization and the huge strides made in legislation reform recently, the bigger digital platforms—namely Google and Facebook—still prohibit cannabis companies from advertising. This is unlikely to change while marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

    You Can’t Smoke That on TV

    The reasons we don’t see many digital ads for marijuana extends to TV, radio, and print advertisements, as well. Nebulous FCC regulations manage to blur the issue even more for TV commercials. Even when state laws say it’s okay to advertise, newspapers and TV stations still get nervous entering this new area. They’re worried about potential fines or public outcry. It’s easier to just say no.

    So Why Billboards?

    While laws and restrictions can vary by jurisdiction, in places where it’s legal to do so, billboard companies seem to be more open to marijuana ads. MedMen recently gained a lot of attention for their campaign in Los Angeles. Their intention with this campaign seems to be to normalize marijuana use; hopefully it can help normalize marijuana advertising, as well.

    If you take out the reluctance of other media channels and regulatory content restrictions, you still have the issue of cost. The legal marijuana industry is still new. Many of these businesses are smaller and don’t yet have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on TV commercials and magazine ads. While they certainly can be more expensive in certain areas, they’re generally within reach for most budgets. This is especially important to note when talking about how these new small businesses decide where to advertise.

    The high impact, low cost and decentralized regulatory environment around OOH means billboards will probably continue to be a go-to advertising option for marijuana-related businesses for the foreseeable future.

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