- MedMen has rolled out a marketing campaign, "The New Normal," that details the American history of cannabis, beginning with George Washington's hemp farm and spanning to touch on the drug's modern applications and barriers to legalization, according to a press release. The brand, which is the largest cannabis retailer in the U.S., claims the campaign is its most expansive to date, per Esquire.
- The effort centers on a two-minute short film directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Spike Jonze ("Her") and narrated by actor Jesse Williams ("Grey's Anatomy"). It features a cast and crew with real-life connections to cannabis, including military veterans who use it to treat PTSD, a former NFL player using it as an opioid substitute and those who have experienced the racial injustices of the drug war. Jonze additionally created a short documentary with filmmaker Molly Schiot to expand on the stories covered in the lead spot.
- MedMen is running "The New Normal" through connected TV networks, including Bravo, MSNBC, CBS Sports and Food Network; out-of-home; print ads in Rolling Stone and US Weekly; Sirius XM; native content integrations in Complex; podcasts and terrestrial radio; and digital pre-roll and programmatic ads. The ads will also appear in movie theaters across California, Nevada and Michigan, where marijuana is fully legal.
As medicinal and recreational marijuana become legalized in more states, brands in the category are gaining greater power and legitimacy in the marketing world, with the latest MedMen push standing as what's potentially one of the most extensive campaigns to date in the U.S. around cannabis. Not only is "The New Normal" far reaching, touching across channels from connected TV to digital native content, it also features some advertising heavyweights like Spike Jonze, who's won industry praise for prior work with brands like Apple and Kenzo.
MedMen is looking to highlight the business potential of the cannabis industry, as well as real-life stories of its use to treat conditions like PTSD, which could help to dispel outdated stereotypes associated with the drug. The company has embraced a similar creative strategy in the past, such as through a "Forget Stoner" campaign from last year that spotlighted more diverse marijuana users, like a police officer, teacher and an entrepreneur, per Adweek.
"The New Normal" running on connected TV networks, including CBS Sports, could help amplify reach and awareness. Not all of the networks have been receptive to accepting ad dollars from marijuana advertisers in the past. CBS recently rejected a proposed Super Bowl spot that called for the legalization of medical marijuana from Acreage Holdings. Like MedMen's creative, the commercial focused on the drug's medicinal benefits by showing a veteran with combat injuries and a child who experiences seizures.
A growing number of states allow legal medical marijuana and several others have legalized it for recreational purposes. The majority of Americans, or 62%, support legalized marijuana, according to the Pew Research Center. Consumers are also showing a greater interest in cannabis derivatives, like CBD, or cannabidiol, and hemp, which are available in a variety of products, ranging from coffee to skin care.
More established marketers are tapping into a mainstream acceptance of cannabis-centric products. HBO recently teamed up with experiential company Grandesign to serve free CBD lattes in Brooklyn and Venice Beach, California, in promotion the show "High Maintenance." The events drove about 12,000 in-person impressions from customers walking around with the branded coffee cups and sleeves, as well as 100,000 social media impressions.
Correction: A prior version of this story referenced "The New Normal" as a TV commercial. After the story published, a spokesperson for MedMen clarified that the campaign ultimately did not meet the FCC's television standards.