In a pioneering move, Cresco Labs, one of America’s foremost cannabis enterprises, has commenced an advertising blitz on Spotify, a debut venture for the company.
Focused on spotlighting its Sunnyside dispensaries, these promotional efforts are making waves in Illinois—a state that has given the green signal to marijuana. The multimedia campaign encompasses an array of formats from 30-second audio snippets, captivating in-app banners, and connected TV spots to programmatic and native advertisements.
The path for cannabis brands desiring to advertise on digital platforms is fraught with complexities. Although certain platforms have recently modified their advertising guidelines to greenlight cannabis promotions in states with legalization, major players like Google and Meta are yet to fully embrace cannabis campaigns. They do, however, offer some leeway for certain CBD and hemp brand promotions.
Offering insights into Spotify’s policy, spokesperson Erin Styles elucidated that while Cresco Labs isn’t the maiden THC product advertiser on their platform, there are restrictions. Products explicitly pushing sales of specific cannabis-related items, including vapes, flowers, and associated paraphernalia, don’t find favor. However, general branding endeavors, like those of Cresco Labs which highlight “wellness products” sans direct cannabis references, get the nod.
Matt Pickerel, the VP of retail marketing at Cresco Labs, shared insights into their enduring relationship with Spotify, emphasizing the brand’s commitment to ethical cannabis advertising. He stated, “We’ve been in close contact with Spotify for years… we’ve made it clear that Cresco Labs and Sunnyside are responsible, professional cannabis advertisers.”
Given the tech giants’ somewhat conservative stance on cannabis promotions, such companies are exploring alternative advertising avenues, from podcasts to hands-on marketing experiences. Advanced ad-tech solutions also come into play, allowing geofenced campaigns in cannabis-friendly states, bespoke programmatic ads on receptive platforms, and targeting strategies focused on audiences aged 21 and above.
Cresco Labs’s foray into Spotify advertising exemplifies how brands, in regulated industries, can creatively navigate platform-specific restrictions to reach their target audience.