'WeedFacts' campaign fosters real dialogue around legalization

Weedmaps, a popular California-based cannabis directory platform, wants to educate the general public about the truth and myths surrounding cannabis. They accomplished this through their ‘#WeedFacts’ campaign, which included hundreds of billboards across the US and Canada. These large OOH advertisements featured statistics and studies about marijuana legalization.

The campaign started in 2016 with a few billboards and two goals, to foster dialogue and to change the cannabis discussion. The company had 221 billboards in May of this year, across five states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, and Oregon as well as 3 Canadian provinces - British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

The campaign was all created in-house and Weedmaps has recently spread the message effectively through digital and social media.

Advertising as a cannabis company can be complicated. Traditional advertising channels have been slow to accept dollars from the “green” industry. Most television, digital and print have prohibited cannabis marketing.

The regulations in Canada are even more strict. Strangely enough, Out Of Home companies have embraced marijuana brands. You can find Weedmaps ads on billboards hanging over the highway, on buses and bus stops and in the metro subway. Licensed Producers in Canada also heavily invested in billboards and other OOH to increase brand awareness in the run up to recreational legalization.

Weedmaps has been able to effectively spread their brand to the mainstream while also communicating important messages. You can find their ads on billboards hanging over the highway, on buses and bus stops and even in the metro subway.

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The ‘WeedFacts’ campaign makes the case that cannabis is good for the economy and for health. The company points to facts showing that Medicaid could have saved $1 billion in 2014 if marijuana were legal in all 50 states. Another points to the amount of jobs generated by the legal cannabis industry, which now surpasses the coal mining industry in America.

One mentions that “States that legalized marijuana had 25% fewer opioid related deaths”. A billboard with this message was actually taken down in South Boston because of several complaints made by community members who were angry because their neighbourhood has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. The company chose to take down the billboards to be fair. When residents of Montreal, Quebec in Canada complained about the marijuana-related billboards in their city, Weedmaps was quick to take them down as well. It seems that they are trying to be as sensitive and un-provocative as possible, while still communicating their message.

Overall, this OOH campaign was extremely effective and generated a large amount of buzz - in the mainstream and within the cannabis community. Weedmaps set the stage for more marijuana companies to begin advertising on billboards and in public. ‘#Weedfacts’ is by far one of the most well-known and compelling cannabis advertising campaigns to date.

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