Rec Shops Opt for Free Publicity Over Newspaper Ads

Colorado’s recreational marijuana shops are relying on free publicity and online listing services rather than local daily newspapers to advertise their businesses.

According to the advertising magazine Ad Age, the Denver Post and Boulder’s Daily Camera and Colorado Daily newspapers are not earning much from marijuana ads.

The Denver Post has booked only two ads for its marijuana-centric website, The Cannabist, which has attracted 250,000 unique visitors since its launch. But just one of the site’s ads was for a medical marijuana business. The two Boulder newspapers have seen basically no revenue from marijuana ads.

Marijuana professionals believe that traditional advertising might not be the best way to promote their product, at least right now. Linda Andrews, owner of Lodo Wellness in Denver, said intense media coverage of Colorado’s recreational cannabis industry has buoyed her business, providing valuable free publicity. She has found it more useful to spend marketing dollars to advertise with the dispensary listing website WeedMaps rather than buy newspaper ads.

Al Manzi, publisher of the two Boulder newspapers, said he believes the lack of advertising dollars stems from the fact that no recreational retail centers have opened in the city yet. However, that’s still a target market for retail shops in Denver, which is just 30 minutes away.

Marijuana shops can advertise in print newspapers and on radio stations and TV channels, so long as the outlets can prove that no more than 30% of their audience is below the age of 21.

Colorado’s TV stations have yet to do business with the marijuana industry. The local CBS affiliate in Denver does not accept marijuana advertising. The Fox affiliate has accepted ads from paraphernalia shops, but not from dispensaries or retail outlets.