January was a month packed with cannabis and hemp related news, from big companies going public on major stock exchanges, to the filing of marijuana re-scheduling bills into Congress, to cannabis investments from former NFL star Joe Montana and former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz. However, no single news item got as much press coverage as Acreage Cannabis’ rejected Super Bowl ad.
Basically, what happened was this multi-state U.S. cannabis company submitted a public service announcement video spot touting the benefits of medical marijuana, for CBS to consider airing during the Super Bowl – at the token price of at least $5 million. Quoting its broadcast standards, CBS rejected the request.
Backlash was immediate, with virtually ever major (and not so major) news outlet in the U.S. reporting on the issue.
Acreage Holdings’ Head of Communications, Howard Schacter, told DOPE Magazine that, as a cannabis industry leader, a company with one of the largest footprints in the country, they have a responsibility to use their platform to “fight for what’s right as it related to the cannabis industry.”
Schacter continues, “There’s nothing more important than educating Americans, who have not yet experienced the benefits of this plant, as well as call[ing] regulators who still need persuading to get on the train to action.”
Adding to these comments, Greg Rovner, CEO of Heally, noted that, “It’s frustrating that legal cannabis use is still thought of, by some, as something to be ashamed of. We know the positive effects that cannabis is having on millions of peoples’ mental and physical health and hope the corporations will soon wake up to the benefits of holistic medicine.”
The rejection of Acreage Cannabis’ PSA, many argued, was a blessing in disguise for the company. The press it got from it is invaluable, they said.
“Either way, Acreage doesn’t lose in trying to buy Super Bowl commercial time. Even in losing their bid for a commercial, Acreage wins the press headlines and draws attention to the hypocrisy of the NFL and CBS who embrace messages of alcohol and prescription drugs, despite evidence surrounding the health and economic impacts that prescription drug and alcohol abuse are having on our communities,” added Kevin Provost, CEO of cannabis investment fund Greenhouse Ventures.
Provost goes on to say, “What’s unfortunate is that millions of veterans and parents of children with disabilities are likely watching the Super Bowl, and CBS missed a huge opportunity to champion an effective solution for underserved populations who would benefit from Acreage’s message the most – our veterans and children.”
By means of conclusion, Schacter voiced: “While we certainly weren’t surprised by CBS’ decision, we absolutely believed that a spot that was about education and a public service, versus promoting our brand and our products, would tip the scales. We were fully prepared with our checkbooks to pay $5 million or more to have this important message told … We don’t know exactly what our plans are for next year, but we will continue to push for the continued mainstreaming of the industry and public acceptance.”
See the video originally posted on Green Entrepreneur below: