"Hashish Goads Users to Bloodlust!" was a typical headline seen in Hearst newspapers in the 1930s when the "yellow journalism" outlet pushed to make marijuana illegal, possibly because Pancho Villa, whose army favored the weed, seized Hearst's property in Mexico. Next thing you knew, the Marijuana Tax Act had passed, effectively making cannabis hemp—newly known by the scary word "marijuana"—illegal in the US.
Now Hearst has teamed with the cannabis industry and other groups under the umbrella of the Cannabis Media Council to publish ads that seek to mainstream the use of cannabis in the media.
According to Adweek, the work—under the trademarked tagline “I’m High Right Now”— aims to be the “Got Milk” of the cannabis industry, targeting boomers and Gen X as the demo “most affected by previous propaganda” about cannabis, according to Allison Disney, a CMC board member who spearheaded the creative via Chicago-based agency Receptor Brands with an assist from Sister Merci.
"Given the restrictions on cannabis marketing—brands can’t buy ads from tech giants like Meta, Instagram or TikTok and are shut out of most traditional outlets—the sales-free pitch for weed wants to build awareness and rebrand the space," Adweek continues. The campaign is launching first in the Connecticut Post as a print piece, given that the state recently kicked off its adult-use cannabis sales. “I’m High Right Now” will appear in more "legacy media" via a relationship between the CMC and Hearst Newspapers and its in-house ad marketing agency 46 Mile.
Hearst now publishes Greenstate, a channel dedicated to the topic to “provide accurate information about the plant, dispel myths and to help readers understand its health benefits and lifestyle options,” according to Rose Fulton, principal of 46 Mile, part of the San Francisco Chronicle. Programmatic ads are coming shortly via the data-driven company Surfside, mostly in California markets.