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There has never been a commercial for cannabis during a Super Bowl telecast, and this year on CBS and TelevisaUnivision is no different.
But in the San Francisco 49ers home market, Hearst Media has broken ground by running a cannabis advocacy ad in its Sunday Super Bowl 58 print preview issue. The lauded stereotype-busting campaign from Cannabis Media Council (CMC), with the tagline “I’m High Right Now,” will also run in a post-game commemorative edition if the 49ers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
The open letter-style ad notes that “not all legacy media outlets are rejecting the plant,” under the headline, “Can a bowl be super without cannabis?”
Hearst’s 46 Mile division and the CMC have an ongoing relationship that has opened up a new avenue for a $33.6 billion industry with few mainstream marketing options and myriad restrictions. That’s despite cannabis now being legal—either for medical, adult-use sales or both—in 40 states.
“Cannabis products, from alternatives to alcohol to preferred adult-use consumables, are already being legally enjoyed by the majority of the U.S. population, including those tuning in at game time,” said Amy Deneson, co-founder of the CMC.
“While we see this censorship of legal, beloved businesses as a big time fumble and loss of opportunity for audience engagement and ad revenue, we are making progress toward the game of inches with partners like 46 Mile.”
The relationship has helped “I’m High Right Now,” from agency Sister Merci, blaze a trail in publications from Men’s Health and Good Housekeeping to Vanity Fair and Town & Country. It was named one of ADWEEK’s top 10 cannabis campaigns of 2023.
Cannapreneurs have tried, and failed, to get into the Big Game in the past—Weedmaps’ instant classic spot in 2022 starring a character named Brock Ollie and Acreage Holdings’ heart-tugging PSA in 2019 were both turned down by the NFL and TV networks.
Chicago-based Cresco Labs, partnering with a popular local sports bar, orchestrated a Super Bowl-adjacent campaign this year, aiming to drift off the Big Game energy without having any official link to the event.
Via its Good News brand, Cresco dropped a limited-time THC-infused buffalo wing sauce, intending to normalize weed at parties and target both loyalists and newbies with the novelty marinade.