Denver ABC affiliate KMGH will run its first advertisement for a legal marijuana company in the next week, the station confirmed to The Cannabist on Thursday. (UPDATE JULY 20, 6:55 P.M.: The ads won’t air anytime soon.)
The station’s vice president said it will follow the state’s strict cannabis advertising laws.
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“Rolling Papers:” Mitch Dickman’s documentary about the dawn of legal marijuana in Colorado and The Denver Post’s coverage of the related cultural and business developments during the first year landed a worldwide distributor after its South by Southwest premiere.
“KMGH has agreed to accept ads from legal cannabis businesses,” said Brad Remington, the station’s vice president and general manager. “The first of these TV ads will probably air within the next week. We have set some strict guidelines on when these ads can run and the content of the ads. Ads for recreational use, for example, cannot air until after 10 p.m. and cannot show people using the product. We will also accept ads from legal businesses on The Denver Channel, with restrictions.”
So what changed the ABC affiliate’s mind on pot ads?
“The world is changing, evolving and we need to constantly take a look at things,” said KMGH’s Remington. “After careful deliberations, we have elected to accept ads from what is now a legal business in Colorado and apply some of the same restrictions and standards that we do for similar adult products, like hard liquor.”
Neos’ 15-second TV commercial won’t feature the company’s vape pens, or even the amber-colored THC oil that fills the pens’ cartridges, because of strict state laws regarding marijuana advertising.
The ad will air at 10:35 p.m. July 20 — after the news and before “Jimmy Kimmel Live” — according to Cannabrand, the marijuana-focused marketing company representing Neos.
“We just found out that ABC local Channel 7 (KMGH) is allowing for cannabis advertising,” said Olivia Mannix, co-founder of Cannabrand. “You’re not allowed to use any products or imagery in the commercial, so we’re keeping it in line with the standards and guidelines. It says ‘vape pen’ in the voiceover, but we don’t have an actual photo of the vape pen. And we’re not using any words. It never says ‘cannabis’ or ‘marijuana’.”
Mannix says the Neos commercial is a “lifestyle shot.”
“There’s no products at all. You’re not allowed to show any cannabis at all. It’s more brand-focused … It shows various shots of recreation in Colorado: People camping, on a hike, portraying a cannabis consumer who is active and healthy.”
The state’s cannabis laws require that a specific percentage of a media portal’s audience be aged 21 and older for it to allow advertisements from marijuana companies. After some research, Neos and KMGH landed on the late-night slot preceding “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”
“ABC provided us with statistics from Nielsen, the leading global information and measurement company, stating that the affected area’s audience is more than 90 percent over the age of 21,” Beth Lewis of Neos said in a statement. “After acquiring this data, we knew we had found the perfect space for televised cannabis marketing.”
Mannix wondered out loud if Neos’ commercial will be the first time a product in the legal weed space is commercially advertised on TV: “As far as we know,” she said, “this is the first marijuana product television advertisement.”