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How Cannabis Advertising Is Moving Beyond Counterculture Stereotypes


After years of political lobbying and public education, cannabis supporters have successfully chipped away at the stoner stereotypes surrounding the marijuana industry. Nevertheless, the “green rush” movement has miles to go before it escapes every negative connotation associated with cannabis. This puts the onus on dispensaries and marijuana brands to carefully craft their cannabis advertising to attract curious, open-minded consumers.

Breaking the "Stoner" Stereotype

Beyond avoiding terms such as “weed” and “pot,” legal cannabis suppliers can elevate their image by framing marijuana products as supportive of preferred lifestyles or improved health. A buyer interested in CBD products isn’t looking to get high, but he or she might be searching for a natural product to relieve pain or stress. Cannabis companies such as Old Pal have embraced this reality by offering mature marketing that avoids stoner stereotypes.

Watching Old Pal’s digital advertising efforts is like looking through a highlight reel of a
cozy community and friendly good times. The company’s advertisements echo a sense of simplicity mixed with elegance, replacing confusion with easy-to-understand text and visuals. The cannabis brand takes a page from beer commercials by staying rooted in basic, natural fun.

Actually, beer and microbrew marketing is a good place for any marijuana startup to study advertisement concepts. For generations, brewers have highlighted everything from flavor to the unique hops varieties they use. If brewmasters can enjoy a heralded position, why doesn’t the cannabis industry celebrate master “budtenders” who scientifically cultivate plants with unique attributes?

Another way for marijuana brands to upscale their verbiage is by keeping it down-to-earth and conversational. Although comedian and actress Chelsea Handler’s highly anticipated marijuana line hasn’t been released, she’s been vocal about its premise and promise. When speaking about the advantages of cannabis, Handler says she wants people to try her products with a full understanding of what to expect.

Clearly, Handler has entered the market as a knowledgeable marijuana thought leader with serious advice to share. Rather than encouraging consumers to seek highs, she wants them to discern how best to incorporate marijuana safely into their lives. Her compassionate, thoughtful encouragement represents a far cry from what the public assumes so-called “street pushers” would do.

Capturing the Right Tone in Cannabis Advertising

Of course, no cannabis brand wants to — or should — go too far in any direction. Finding the right tonal balance often involves harmonizing text with imagery. Advertisements should include appealing visuals, and images that express a specific theme can be highly effective.

Kiva Confections, a California cannabis brand specializing in edibles, uses vibrant, colorful, and creative imagery on its website and product packaging. Kiva's website highlights its products and the unique story behind them. By including a video review of the brand's offerings and an FAQ section, Kiva entices customers to learn more about its products and to see why the brand is right for them.

Other cannabis advertising strives more toward the aspirational. The web content of Marley Natural incorporates storytelling and inspiration, drawing readers in while evoking images of strength, power, and freedom. Whether they’re hikers, artists, or anyone in between, cannabis consumers who want their marijuana to have meaning know Marley Natural’s mission dovetails with their personal vision statements.

Authenticity and trust also are major selling points in the cannabis industry. Seasoned and emerging marijuana consumers alike worry about buying products laced with unwanted additives, which is why cannabis brands such as Bhang CBD tout naturally grown, lab-tested products that taste as good as they look. With its fun, trendy, and informational website design, Bhang reassures shoppers that it’s committed to the well-being of its customers.

Finally, some cannabis brands choose to lean more toward the health and wellness benefits of their products. As a result, they might focus on the inflammation-reducing properties of CBD-infused drinks or the medicinal value of marijuana. Often, these brands use evidence from third-party studies and link to reputable sources and publications to prove their products’ worth.

Grabbing Positive Attention Without Traditional Marketing

Unfortunately, getting the word out can be tough — even if a cannabis brand has all the right messaging. Some states might have stringent rules and regulations regarding marijuana-related advertising. Consequently, some key publishers eschew cannabis advertising despite the marijuana industry’s potential for growth.

Although print advertisements and billboards are perfectly legal, they’re also quite costly — not to mention limiting when it comes to visibility. It's also hard to tie outdoor advertising to meaningful results that help companies make data-driven decisions. Cannabis companies are starting to feel like their hands are tied, particularly when it comes to wooing first-time consumers.

This is where Vana can help. With our publication partnerships, targeting capabilities, and marketing expertise, Vana is the best resource for cannabis brands seeking to increase their visibility. Our goal is to help you get the word out through advertisements that are mature while emphasizing the everyday use of marijuana products — including everything from sleep aids to social lubricants.

Overcoming the stereotype of the "couch-locked lazy stoner" or the “dazed and confused hippie” won’t happen overnight. Through systematic exposure to legal cannabis-related digital advertising, however, we find that adults over the age of 21 begin to understand the ways marijuana can assist them with anxiety, chronic pain, and other concerns.

As research shows, people are 131% more apt to purchase a product after they view
educational information. The more supportive data that meets a “green rush” prospect’s eyes, the greater the chance the marijuana industry will pick up steam and leave its partying past behind.

To learn more, contact Vana today or request a demo.



The Vana Team

By: The Vana Team

Vana is the leading compliant marketing platform for cannabis and CBD. We reach over 200 million unique consumers per month and offer compliant advertising and marketing solutions for brands and retailers across the cannabis and CBD industry.