Naperville Business Lawyer Discusses Rejection of Medical Marijuana Super Bowl Ad

Super Bowl, Naperville business lawyerThis Sunday, the New England Patriots will take on the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. The game will kickoff around 6:40 p.m. EST at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Of course, the Super Bowl represents much more than just the National Football League (NFL) championship. It is also a media spectacle and arguably the most-watched television event of the entire year.

As a business law attorney, I understand why companies are willing to pay millions of dollars for ad spots during the big game. (This year, a 30-second slot cost about $5.2 million.) I also understand why the network that will air the Super Bowl might be hesitant to include ads that generate controversy. Last week, a cannabis company announced that its bid for a Super Bowl ad was flat-out rejected by CBS—a claim that was confirmed by a spokesperson from CBS.

An Intended Political Message

Acreage Holdings is a medical cannabis company with investments in at least 15 different states, including California and Massachusetts—the home states of the teams playing in the Super Bowl. The company approached CBS with the intent of running an ad that focused on the discussion of the benefits of medical marijuana. Rather than simply advertising its own brand, Acreage’s ad looked to “create an advocacy campaign for constituents who are being lost in the dialogue,” said George Allen, president of Acreage.

More than 30 states have legalized medical marijuana, a list that includes Illinois, but the federal government still recognizes cannabis as a dangerous Schedule I controlled substance. As a result, research regarding the drug’s medicinal properties has been largely restricted. Acreage hoped that getting the attention associated with a Super Bowl ad would go a long way toward increasing public awareness.

CBS Says No

Before Acreage could decide whether to buy a 30-second or a 60-second spot, CBS informed the cannabis company that no ads for medical marijuana would be accepted. A spokesperson for CBS confirmed to USA Today that the network’s broadcast standards did not allow CBS to accept such ads. Considering that the drug is still considered illegal at the federal level, the decision was not all that surprising, even to Acreage officials.

Allen said that he was “not particularly surprised that CBS and/or the NFL rejected the content.” He went on to say, “That is actually less a statement about them and more, we think, a statement about where we stand right now in this country.”

Ad Released Online

A version of the Acreage ad has since been released on YouTube. The ad shows several patients who claim to have been helped by medical cannabis. As promised, the spot feels more like a political call to action than an outright advertisement. There is a good chance that the publicity associated with the rejection by CBS will help Acreage’s cause anyway. While it may not get the same number of views that Super Bowl airtime would get, there will be many people who go find the ad wondering why it was rejected.

Contact a DuPage County Business Attorney

Advertising and marketing your business can be tricky, especially when you operate in a controversial industry. An experienced Naperville business lawyer can help you navigate the challenges. Call 630-756-1160 for a confidential consultation at the Gierach Law Firm today.


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