Online dispensary directory WeedMaps recently purchased electronic billboard space in New York City’s Times Square, only to have the ad rejected before it could run.
The development is yet another example of the difficulties cannabis companies run into when trying to advertise across mainstream platforms, despite the industry’s rapid expansion and the growing acceptance of cannabis.
According to WeedMaps co-founder Justin Hartfield, the company purchased a 10-second advertisement scheduled to run for 61 days on the CBS Super Screen in Midtown Manhattan. WeedMaps reportedly paid the advertising firm Neutron Media $50,000 to place the ad, which read “High, NYC” and featured a link to the company’s New York City site.
Hartfield said lawyers from CBS Outdoor – the company that controls the jumbo screen – pulled the ad before it could begin running on April 1. WeedMaps received a refund for the $50,000 from Neutron Media, which had completed the original sale in February.
Harfield said CBS Local did not provide his company with a reason for pulling the ads.
“It was surprising, but not shocking, just because this has totally happened to us in the past,” Hartfield told Sacramento’s NewsReview.com.
There’s a silver lining, though: Hartfield said other New York City advertising groups have approached WeedMaps about running the ad and that he is currently “exploring our options.”
WeedMaps targeted the CBS Super Screen because the billboard had previously run a campaign for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in 2010. CBS had originally vetoed the ads, but a petition drive by Change.org convinced the company to run the ads.