The New York Times Goes to Pot

By Shawn Paul Wood 

cannabis leafly

Last week, The New York Times inspired a media ballyhoo when its editorial board asked the U.S. government to lift its ban on marijuana. Beyond inspiring the obvious headlines, that clarion call to legalize pot did something else — it opened the door for a newly formed industry to promote its wares with paid ads.

Leafly, the organization known as “Yelp for Weed”, walked right through those doors with a full-page spot by Heckler Associates of Seattle promoting its mission: to further related educational efforts under the tagline “Just Say Know.”



What would Nancy Reagan say? We don’t know, but in an interview with Business Insider, Privateer Holdings’ CEO Brendan Kennedy (whose private equity firm sponsors Leafly and other marijuana-related businesses) said, “This product and this industry are still depicted as sub-culture or counter-culture. That’s just not the reality.”

That Seattle-based parent company has been waiting for the right time to spark up this conversation; Kennedy thinks it’s good public service as well.

“Our advertisement in The New York Times is a responsible, mainstream message that elevates the conversation about cannabis in the U.S.”

We should note that the rate for a full page color ad in the Sunday edition of the New York Times costs around $200,000. A spokesperson said:

“We accept ads for products and services that are legal and if the ad has met our acceptability standards…Each ad is evaluated on its own merit.”

Now we ask: when will larger agencies begin advertising marijuana? And will Heckler’s conservative approach set the standard for future weed-focused creative?