A handful of cannabis buds have been artfully stacked and lovingly photographed for a massive outdoor ad with the tagline, “Happy 4:20 LA.”
And if you miss this friendly pot-centric greeting one day, you’ll have plenty of chances to see it again because sponsor Weedmaps plans a yearlong takeover of the space every afternoon at precisely that celebrated smoke-out moment.
And this isn’t just any billboard—it’s one of the largest digital displays in the country that launched Monday in downtown Los Angeles, the top U.S. marijuana market. Weedmaps is its only cannabis advertiser.
“We want to keep reaching out to our core consumer and keep expanding the tent for the cannabis curious,” said Juanjo Feijoo, CMO at Weedmaps. “We feel a responsibility to lead the way in growing our business and the industry as a whole.”
The billboard is situated near the heavily trafficked (and often gridlocked) I-10, in the shadow the L.A. Convention Center, LA Live and Staples Center. An estimated 26 million people annually will see the installation, which measures more than 40,000 square feet on its combined three sides.
Out-of-home advertising is a growth spot for cannabis companies, though it still carries plenty of restrictions. Weedmaps has used the media to solid effect with campaigns like “Weedfacts” and high-profile placements like the monorail in Las Vegas, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and Boston Logan International Airport.
The L.A. billboard is its most significant out-of-home media buy of the year, according to Feijoo, a Google alum who’s been Weedmaps’ head marketer for nine months. The brand will have the space to itself for a solid minute at 4:20 each day (there are usually eight ads appearing each minute).
The creative will change over time, with Weedmaps planning to bring in some of its online advertiser clients for co-branded messages. Because digital allows so much flexibility for creative content, Weedmaps “can talk about social justice and education,” Feijoo said. “We can celebrate Valentine’s Day or other holidays. We’re already thinking about 4/20. It’s a rich opportunity.”
(Early taglines range from the transactional “Order weed online” to the pop-cultural “Let’s remove cannabis bans,” with a professional sports league reference).
The minimum commitment for the site was 12 weeks, but Weedmaps didn’t want to just dip its toe in the water. “We wanted to make a statement,” Feijoo said. “We want to use it as a way to challenge perceptions.”