Tag Archives: Advertisement

#MACannabisAdvertisingProposalsFAIL


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A major bill has been floating around MA since last week that showcases some interesting changes to the cannabis laws.  One surprising notice was that recreational cannabis products could be taxed as high as 28%, which is twice as high as the original format at 12%.  That number may be high, but there’s even some more shocking changes that must be discussed.

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Advertising could be SEVERLY limited under the proposed changes.  The new proposal would limit the use of radio, billboards, TV, print, and even internet (which could include social media!) for advertising cannabis companies.  These advertising tactics would be available ONLY if 71.6% of the audience is over 21.  None of the ads could be targeted to any under 21 nor can the users depicted in the ad as well.

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As a PR pro that delves into the creative advertising world, my first answer to these shocking advertising rules is ‘What…The FUCK.’

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71.6 of the audience over 21?  Where the hell in MA can the mad men lock down their targeted audiences for their ad campaign?  Boston?  Somerville?  Brighton/Allston?

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Seriously though guy…this is NOT good at all!  Aside from the tax issue (cannabis WILL be taxed since it’s such a useful commodity!), these ad proposals put a serious damper for the advertising business.  Creative directors, copywriters, art directors, media buyers, and all other creative geniuses won’t be able to launch their huge campaigns if they only cater to areas where 71.6 of the audience is over 21!  Cannabis companies WILL be shipping to Boston in the next few years and the severe lack of advertisements will only put the industry to a halt.

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To better explain this problem, let’s take Don Draper and his creative team from the Mad Men universe as our leading example (since Don is the sexy creative genius of the Mad Men world!).  Supposed Don’s team relocated to Boston and are working with clients within the cannabis industry.  Members of the cannabis companies meet with Don’s team to discuss the new ad campaigns they would be working on.

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Don’s team CAN work on drafting the ad campaign, but they won’t reach the large number of audiences they want to reach since the areas HAVE to be mostly over 21.  Their advertising strategies would only work in very few places in Massachusetts.  If Don’s team doesn’t reach the intended numbers after running the campaigns, then cannabis companies could take their business elsewhere (to a more 4/20-friendly state like California or Maine).  This would mean that most of the work coming from Don, Roger, Joan, Peggy, and Pete won’t be enough to keep themselves afloat.

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Advertising agencies would want to work with the ever-trending cannabis industry to deliver the best advertising campaigns, but they won’t be able to do that if they can’t reach the amount of audiences they need. It will be a complicated challenge for the Boston mad men if the advertising proposals pass.  Cannabis’s image is heavily plagued by the PR nightmare caused by the Reefer Madness scandal and revitalizing PR tactics are our only solution.  To put it in another way, advertising is going to need some serious help from public relations on flourishing cannabis’s reputation before any amazing image can be shown.  The mad men do have the image (the pot leaf!), but that universal image must be repaired before any advertising tactics are set.

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While I didn’t go to Salem State University for advertising, this issue is still important to me as a former PR student.  Cannabis is the hottest new commodity sweeping the nation since being legalized and audiences are looking to get their hands on it any way they can.  With legality issues standing in the way of communicative creativity, business will become sluggish for industries like advertising and marketing.  They are many aspiring individuals in PR, advertising, marketing, journalism, and other areas of communications that see a brighter future through cannabis.  As the writer of entertainment PR stories at MakeSandcastlesNotWar, I take so much joy in informing the audience about the current cannabis trends.  It’s been such an honor to write about an industry that was once so taboo where it was troublesome to even talk about it (let alone smoke it in the open!).

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Recreational cannabis use is one of the hottest social issues here in America.  There’s a brighter future out there for the cannabis industry and we need the most creative mad men out there to showcase that future to ALL audiences.

Pass the Heinz – Advertisement By Don Draper!


Welcome back folks!  It’s been an interesting week so far, what with the 1-year anniversary of MakeSandcastlesNotWar and the recent post about the ‘medical-grade’ cannabis the government has been studying with (you know, that mutated bird shit covered with stems and dirt!).  We’re done gagging over that god-awful cannabis, so now it’s time to shift gears to something more appetizing…and it originated from an award-winning TV series about advertising!

On the sixth season of Mad Men, Don Draper was asked to generate ideas for Heinz’s new advertising campaign.  The concept was simple: three different pictures of food products with the slogan ‘Pass the Heinz’ hovering over the food.  Heinz representatives disliked the idea because the Heinz ketchup bottle wasn’t featured in the images.  In Don’s perspective, he believed that the ads were “clean, simple, and incomplete” and that the consumer would immediately know what was missing — the ketchup.  Nevertheless, Heinz shot down the idea and decided to move along with another concept.

While Mad Men was just a periodical fiction drama TV series, some of their storyline is based off of real advertisements from the 60s-70s (like the Coca-Cola song on the series finale, for example!).  Some advertising ideas took off while others were set on the shelf for another time.  While it’s been almost 50 years since Don Draper pitched that idea, Heinz decided to take it off the shelf for their next advertising campaign.

Heinz decided to greenlight Don Draper’s ad idea, running almost exactly as he intended.  This ad campaign is partly a PR stunt and partly just on-brand communications that will surely delight fans of Mad Men.  AMC’s most popular periodic drama is celebrating its 10th year anniversary on July.  As a bonus, the ads will be credited to Heinz’s current agency David Miami as well as Don’s fictional firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.  It’s a classic ad idea that couldn’t be any relevant than today.

I thought it was SO cool to hear that one of Don Draper’s ideas will become a REAL advertising idea for Heinz!  I loved Mad Men when I binged-watch the series a few years ago and always rooted for Don Draper each episode.  Don was one of the most creative characters I ever had the pleasure of watching.  Coming from such a broken background, he came up with some really creative advertisements and he explained the premise behind each one.  Advertising may not be my biggest passion, but I truly enjoyed seeing what the advertising world was like.

This is a win-win scenario for advertising as well as public relations.  Mad Men was one of the most popular series on AMC and what better way to celebrate its upcoming 10-year anniversary than featuring Don’s original pitch to Heinz.  It’s interesting how television can spur up intriguing ideas that we would have never drawn up until we actually watch the series.  Sometimes the most creative concepts can be seen from our very own television sets.

Kudos to Don Draper for his pitch to Heinz over 50 years ago!  This campaign will give him the credit he deserved for the idea.  Who knows what other classic ideas will be pulled off the shelf to use in the future.  For right now, let’s enjoy Heinz’s newest ad campaign that was originally pitched by Don Draper!

Public Relations > Advertising


           Public relations is one of many business terms that is often discussed here at MakeSandcastlesNotWar.  Since I graduated from Salem State University, I gained more knowledge on the background of the subject.  The PR industry is one of the various segments of communications that is essential for businesses to survive.  Other important segments include journalism, advertising, marketing, publicity, and other forms of communications.  It is a unique field of communications that doesn’t receive as much attention as it should.

As a PR practitioner myself, I am simply APPALLED at the lack of attention PR gets within the realm of communications!  The thing that most people don’t realize is that public relations is just as important, if not more important, than advertising or marketing.  Advertising may be important, but your business will head nowhere if there are no PR tactics being utilized.

It’s about time I explain how advertising and public relations are two different segments of communications.  Since many people confuse the two industries, here is the basic definition of what they are.  Advertising involves utilizing an audio or visual form of communication to present the IMAGE of a particular product, service, or idea that is currently being promoted.  The advertiser usually pays for the message that they have control over.  For example, the Weedmaps billboard advertisement on Revere Beach (read more on this advertisement here) is advertising Weedmaps’ service of medical cannabis, dispensaries, doctors, and other cannabis-related products or services.  A billboard display presents the image of the brand name, logo, and picture of the website to the consumers.

On the other hand, public relations involves a different kind of business strategy.  Public relations deals with the REPUTATION of the product, service, or idea being promoted (you know, that thing that you worried about all throughout high school!).  The PR agenda is about nabbing free publicity for your company.  Whether it is drafting a press release or creating a newsletter, your main focus is getting that free media exposure that your business needs.  You don’t pay for the coverage and you have no control over how the media will present your information.  Going back to Weedmaps as an example, PR would involve Weedmaps creating coverage about their 4/20 charity event hosted on April 20th that goes towards funding a particular cause.  This charity event boosts their reputation by showcasing the empathetic side of the company.

If that weren’t enough to satisfy your answer, here’s a more colorful example of how advertising and public relations go hand-in-hand.  Starting a thriving business is like creating the monster Frankenstein.  You gather up all of the components together onto the stretcher to attach your monster together.  The advertising piece is like all of the body parts being sewn together to create the IMAGE of the monster.  Body parts, screws, hair, clothing, and other essential pieces are joined together to create Frankenstein’s physical image.

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Frankenstein may have been sewed up together, but the real test comes after you flick the switch…and that’s where public relations steps in.  Public relations is that jolt of energy firing into his brain, awakening the life inside of him.  That jolt will cause him to wake up and see the world around him.  He now wakens with his sight, hearing, visual awareness, and empathetic feelings that human beings have.  The jolt helps him walk around the room to understand what he became.  It’s ALLLLLLIIIIIVVEEEE!

Just like the jolt of energy awakening Frankenstein’s mind, public relations creates life to the company.  It provides all the tools within the human body in order to create an actual reputation.  Piecing the components of your business is one thing, but creating a new life out of your work makes all of the difference.  Your business will be at a standstill until you breath some life into it.

There you have it folks, advertising and public relations provide two different functions for your business.  You simply can’t have advertising without public relations and vice-versa.  One works well with the other, working together to drive your business forward to a successful future.  Advertising helps promote the IMAGE of your business while public relations handles its reputation to keep it in good terms with its community.  Public relations is essential because it ignites your business to become ALIVE, just like Frankenstein!

So if you are pondering about starting a business, then just remember that public relations is one of the most critical tools of your communication process.

Weedmaps Billboard Display on Beachmont


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Over the past few weeks, I have seen more advertisements sprouting up pertaining to cannabis companies.  First there was the billboard on ocean avenue of Revere Beach that showcased Weedmaps.  Weedmaps is an online cannabis community where users can review and discuss various cannabis strains, as well as dispensaries, all around the country.  That was the first Weedmaps advertisement I spotted within the Greater Boston area.  Just a few weeks later, I spotted ANOTHER Weedmaps advertisement sitting on the Saugus Rumney Marsh Reservation.

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This Weedmaps billboard lit up on a clear Monday night, nestled to the right of a billboard advertising Perkins School for the Blind.  It was set across the street from Wheelabrator Technologies, a building that converts business/residential waste into clean energy.  Both of these billboards sit just a few miles away from each other.  Even though recreational dispensaries haven’t opened up yet, we seem to be seeing more cannabis advertisements aimed to raise consumer’s awareness of the product.  And just when I thought I’ve seen them all within my neighborhood, another billboard caught my eye once again.

During one of my trips home from Boston, I remembered noticing another lit billboard on the Beachmont stop on the Blue line.  It took me a few minutes to ponder whether or not I was really seeing things.  “It couldn’t be!”, I thought to myself.  My pondering led me to the Beachmont train station area to check it out.  I parked near the Dimino’s Sub Sandwiches and walked across the street.  Nestled right on the Suffolk Downs racetrack was…ANOTHER Weedmaps sign!

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My pondering was true!  Another Weedmaps advertisement was displayed on a billboard right on the old Suffolk Downs racetrack.  This Weedmaps advertisement can easily be found just a few blocks to the left from the Beachmont train station on Winthrop Avenue.  It was a glorious sight to behold, another Weedmaps billboard just off the Blue line.

Suffolk Downs was a former racecourse that opened in East Boston in 1935.  Joseph A. Tomasello built the infamous racetrack for $2 million, opening one of two live horse racing tracks in Massachusetts.  The racetrack may have closed down on October 4th, 2014, but the Massachusetts Gaming Commission approved funding for it to run on 6 days last year.  There is no word on whether or not the racetrack will open for the 2017 season.

Either way, the Weedmaps advertisement makes for a great display within the racetrack.  It would be interesting if the racetrack did open for a few days this year because it would increase the amount of foot traffic within the Beachmont area.  The billboard actually helps decrease the eyesore around Winthrop Avenue since they limited the horse racing over at Suffolk Downs.

It was so amazing to find yet ANOTHER Weedmaps advertisement nearby!  We don’t have any recreational dispensaries open in Massachusetts, yet cannabis is still widely advertised in the Bay State.  Providing outdoor advertising of cannabis companies is a great strategy to raise audience’s awareness of the product.  There’s still much work to be done for the cannabis industry on the legality scale, but it does help to promote cannabis companies to our audiences.

Seeing another Weedmaps billboard is like catching another glimpse of the future, a future where cannabis becomes a social norm in our society.  Cannabis is here to stay here America and it isn’t being pulled back into Pandora’s Box anytime soon.  With over a majority of Americans believing that recreational cannabis use should be legal, it comes as no surprise that cannabis companies have become the main attraction of many billboards here in the Greater Boston area. We’ve taken the product’s identity away from sketchy dealers in the black market and raised them high onto billboard displays.

Here’s to another Weedmaps billboard sitting proudly on American soil here in Massachusetts.  It’s looking to be a better year for the state of Massachusetts…or better yet, Grassachusetts!

Weedmaps Billboard Display in Saugus


Ok, so remember a few weeks ago how I lost my shit over the Weedmaps billboard on Revere Beach?  Here’s a recap of the story:  I was on the Blue line train to Wonderland going back home from work.  At one point, I noticed a lit sign that said ‘Weed’ on the billboard.  With my curiosity getting the better of me, I grabbed my messenger bag and rushed over to where the sign was.  I looked up towards the sign to see an advertisement for Weedmaps on a billboard.  There it was, a billboard advertising a company catering to the cannabis industry.  What a victory for the cannabis industry here in Massachusetts!

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This was the beginning of a beautiful future for cannabis advertisements here within the Boston area.  To see a billboard advertising Weedmaps just a few blocks from my apartment was absolutely breathtaking.  After viewing the billboard, I didn’t think I would find any other advertisements for Weedmaps around my area…and boy was I wrong!

Our next story starts during the drive home to Lynn after another busy day at work.  I was driving down the Saugus/Lynn exit of the rotary in Revere.  Traffic wasn’t so bad and I left work feeling great about tackling the next assignment.  Just a few minutes before the bridge to Lynn, I spotted something SO incredible that I had to pullover.  That amazing thing I spotted…was ANOTHER WEEDMAPS ADVERTISEMENT!

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That’s right, folks!  I spotted yet ANOTHER Weedmaps advertisement on a billboard on the drive home to Lynn.  Once I spotted the billboard, I pulled into the Fox Hill Yacht Club to get a closer look.  A few minutes into my walk and I stared the Weedmaps billboard, its message glowing bright among the Salem Turnpike.

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After making the turn to Salem Turnpike, you can spot this Weedmaps sign across from the Wheelabrator waste management service in Saugus.  It currently sits within the Saugus Rumney Marsh Reservation, a salt marsh habitat that stretches between Saugus and Revere.  This marks one of two Weedmaps advertisements spotted within the Greater Boston area.

The Weedmaps billboard is settled in an ironic area when you think about.  Here is a billboard advertising cannabis, a natural plant that human beings enjoy consuming for recreational use.  It’s currently nestled on a Salt marsh reservation that is home to migrant birds that fly back when the weather is warmer.  Across the street is Wheelabrator Technologies, an industry that converts residential and business waste into clean energy.  Here we have a billboard advertising one of the most natural/safest plants that is currently nestled within a salt marsh reservation and a company that turns waste into clean energy.  It’s almost like Massachusetts is pushing out this subtle sign that cannabis is welcome here in the Bay State!

Spotting this Weedmaps billboard advertisement was truly an incredible sign!  To see ANOTHER billboard advertising Weedmaps shows that we are slowly adapting the cannabis industry into our social culture.  What was once a dangerous drug that was rumored to kill your brain cells is now being advertised on a billboard in Saugus.  We have come so far since Nixon’s War on Drugs procedures that more and more Americans believe cannabis really does have a place here in the United States (FYI, over 2/3rd of Americans believe cannabis should be legal!).

Recreational dispensaries may not roll out for another year or so, but seeing Weedmaps advertised on billboards gives us a glimpse to a brighter future for the cannabis industry.  It’ll be exciting to know that one day adults in Massachusetts will be able to purchase legal cannabis from a dispensary.  For now, let’s take in the glory that is Weedmaps being advertised on a billboard in Saugus.