Recreational marijuana became legal in California on January 1. The first ad campaign is making itself known on the Whisky a Go Go nightclub on Sunset Strip. It’s not understated. In fact, there’s an ad from the campaign, called Faces, on almost every usable space (usually sold to promote record labels’ new releases) and the ads can be seen from both driving directions along the Strip.
The ads by MadMen, Southern California’s largest legal marijuana retailer, are not inherently striking – a simple portrait, each accompanies by a line reassuring people that marijuana is legal and identifying one of its uses. The choice of subjects for the portraits is striking. These are mainstream ads, featuring everyday people – people like your grandma, the bloke next door and the woman whose desk is beside you at work. Making the “pot” stigma diminish is clearly a goal.
The ads were created in-house and had to navigate advertising restrictions.
The full campaign includes more than two dozen outdoor ads, print ads in LA Weekly, OC Weekly, Angelino and Paper magazines, and wraps on commercial vehicles. There is also digital outreach, grassroots programs in about 50 nightclubs in Los Angeles and Orange counties, and a content partnership with Leafly and Vice.