CBS Not Quite Ready to Modernize Super Bowl Ads

Stigma towards cannabis has been on a remarkable down-trend as of late, with more than half of Americans favoring legalization, at least medically. Many of our most high-profile celebrities and influencers have shared their own personal use, and we’ve seen some of the largest corporations open their checkbooks in the direction of cannabis.

But de-stigmatization apparently hasn’t made its way to the corporate offices of broadcasting giant CBS. Recently, Canadian cannabis company Acreage Holdings (the one former Speaker of the House John Boehner works for) produced a 30-second TV commercial focused on medical cannabis with the hope of seeing it airedduring this year’s Super Bowl television broadcast. The ad, which would have cost $5 million to air, was immediately rejected by the company, stating “CBS will not be accepting any ads for medical marijuana at this time.”

On its face, this seems like the expected outcome. The Super Bowl is one of the most watched television events on the planet. But is a medical marijuana commercial, likely bookended by ads from large beer manufacturers, really such a bad thing? Who might the images of healing and reduced suffering in Acreage’s commercial offend?

The majority of Americans are in favor of legalized cannabis. CBS’s stance of refusing all marijuana ads seems behind the times, and incongruent with the slew of advertising dollars happily accepted in marketing other regulated substances. While we couldn’t make it for 2019, hopefully the ads during the 2020 Super Bowl will more accurately represent the public’s feelings.

And finally, just to clarify, the suggested ad is focused on medical, not recreational cannabis. It’s a great piece of storytelling that focuses on different ailments that can be helped through cannabis and the diverse folks affected by them. Check out the full 60-second cut of the ad below.

About the author

Sam Aronson is a Graduate Student and Teaching Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He is currently pursuing his Master’s in Professional Writing and Communication, and is focused on branding within the cannabis industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn!

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