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Super Bowl ads…ever more creative, sophisticated, humorous – and there’s always a few heart-string tuggers in the mix. For some, the ads are the best part of the day. Okay, the second-best.
In recent years, some newcomers have gotten in on the fun: hard liquor and sports betting apps. This year’s newbie on the screen is cryptocurrency.
Yes, Comcast CMCSA‘s NBC is allowing crypto, but not cannabis ads, to air during Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals.
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Why? Many are asking, especially in view of the fact that Americans apparently understand far less about cryptocurrency than they do about cannabis. After all, the plant is legal in one form or another in 36 states, public support for legalization in all 50 has never been higher and its medical benefits and safety have been researched across the board. Cannabis always scores far higher than alcohol in that arena. The jury is still out on cryptocurrency, but gambling apps?
More than 140 studies and reports showed that betting app users have higher rates of gambling problems than regular gamblers and that young people now have higher rates of gambling problems than adults.
See also: What Happens If You Smoke Weed Everyday?
Sure, sports betting generated $1 billion in revenue is 2020, but then U.S. cannabis sales topped $37.4 billion in 2021.
So, all of this begs a question: why is cannabis once again shut out of the Super Bowl? NBC’s placement of cannabis in the “restricted” category does not quite cut it as an explanation.
Not A First
This is the third year that cannabis has been rejected from showing its face in the biggest advertising event of the year, though it persists. In 2019, Acreage Holdings ACRDF tried to place a heart-wrenching yet informative ad about cannabis’ medical benefits in treating children with epilepsy, adults with depression and military veterans with PTSD. No go, said NBC.
When California-based Weedmaps MAPS, or WM Technology, broached the subject with NBC about placing an ad in the LVI Super Bowl, the response “was a blanket ‘no,’” Juanjo Feijoo, Weedmaps COO told Inverse.
But, to prove an important point, Weedmaps made a humorous yet poignant digital ad for the Super Bowl anyway, starring a life-sized broccoli sprout – a symbol for cannabis – who is tired of being mistaken for something he’s not.
“There’s an irony in the fact that the biggest night for advertising will feature an array of consumer brands in regulated industries, from beverage alcohol to sports betting, yet legal cannabis retailers, brands and businesses have been boxed out,” said Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals.
Meanwhile, Brock Ollie, one of the many “safe” icons for weed since we can’t talk publicly about it, said it all.
“Cannabis is here to stay…but can we just call it what it is? Can we talk about it?” pleaded Brock Ollie.