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Legal marijuana faces interesting advertising struggle

Published January 21, 2014 at 8:29 am

Localized marketing is usually an effective strategy because it incorporates what makes a particular place unique. It’s able to capture something about a town, or city that a national ad that has to cater to a wide audience might not be able to.

This notion is particularly salient in Colorado right now, which recently legalized marijuana sales. The state faces a unique challenge in promoting a product that is still banned under federal law, and is finding some roadblocks working through traditional channels.

Neither Google nor Twitter, both big players in the digital ad game, are allowing sponsored ads from marijuana vendors. The app store isn’t any respite, as Apple has firm restrictions in place on what it allows there. Thus, this multi-million dollar industry is still struggling to deal with a nearly unprecedented grey area between public policy and private interest.

One channel that has been somewhat successful is a combination of YouTube-style viral content and one particular celebrity endorsement. Nick Adler is VP of business development at Cashmere Agency, which represents noted marijuana advocate Snoop Dogg. His client has already linked his name with a digital smoking device, and has been in talks to create a particular strain that could be marketed under his brand.

“Snoop Dogg can be the Michael Jordan of the weed market,” notes Adler.

At this point, the industry is still very green when it comes to self-promotion and marketing. As time goes on, however, and companies better understand the legal hurdles implicit in dealing with the marijuana industry, its stock looks to perhaps get higher.



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