Advertising in the cannabis industry is a bit of a nightmare. Though marijuana legalization has continued to grow, since it’s still a Schedule I drug according to the federal government, most advertisers have been wary to take it on.
Facebook and Google have made cannabis advertisements all but impossible. The USPS refuses to deliver anything promoting a cannabis retailer, and the same goes for advertisements in most newspapers. Then, there are the varying laws by state. Some may allow cannabis advertisements as long as they’re not exposed to people under the age of 21 (Colorado) while others ban advertising except in trade publications.
It all makes for a confusing legal cannabis market, but there may finally be some good news. Advertising cannabis at 39,000 feet is a new possibility.
Starting in mid-June, Wikileaf—a price-comparison app reviewing popular strains—has started running an in-flight ad on Virgin America’s domestic routes. The commercial plays on every seatback and will continue to run through mid-September, reaching nearly eight million passengers during its run.
The ad shows a woman packing for an upcoming trip, putting away her clothes, makeup, shampoo, and electronic devices. Then, the narrator comes on and asks, “And the biggest decision of them all, should you bring your cannabis?”
Of course, the obvious answer is “no,” and Wikileaf hopes the PSA will discourage people from bringing cannabis on flights while also encouraging them to download their app when the flight lands.
Wikileaf CEO Dan Nelson told Ad Age, “We wanted to get somewhere more mainstream. We had ads in various magazines and online places where it’s cannabis-focused, but we wanted some out-of-the-box ideas.”
Advertising high in the sky is definitely an out-of-the-box idea, and it does come with some restrictions. According to a clause in Wikileaf’s contract with Virgin America, they’re not allowed to mention the airline, which is why you’ll find so little information about it online.
In fact, some of the only information we found was through social media, specifically Twitter.
So, is advertising high in the sky a good option for cannabis companies? It could be.
According to the Virgin America Advertising Sales Kit the average age of their flyers is 25-29 years old with a concentration in the 40 to 49 range. The audience is fairly evenly divided between male (52%) and female (48%) passengers with a slight emphasis on leisure (60%) over business (40%). And the basic traveler profile is “hip, socially-engaged, tech-savvy, creative, and fashion forward.” That sounds like a good audience to us.
Still, we’ll have to keep our eye on cannabis advertising at 39,000 feet and see if the “high” lasts.