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When there’s good news and bad news, tradition says you start with the positive, so here goes: 40 U.S. states are now part of the legal green rush—with conservative-leaning, Republican-led Ohio recently approving recreational cannabis sales—and a record 70% of the American public supports legalizing weed.
Meantime, the federal Department of Health and Human Services has recommended that the plant be taken out of the most restrictive category of scheduled drugs, a groundbreaking development, and the industry is on track to haul in a chart-topping $33.6 billion in 2023.
The bad news: Cannapreneurs continue to face a host of challenges, including an entrenched and thriving illicit market, price compression, product oversupply, scant investment, ad restrictions, banking bans and crushing tax burdens.
As a result, many companies slashed their marketing budgets this year—mirroring other categories in inflationary times—choosing nuts-and-bolts activations at retail stores and targeted programmatic ads over splashy Super Bowl-caliber campaigns.
But fret not, because even with money in short supply, creatives in the space did not disappoint. Adweek’s list of the top 10 cannabis marketing campaigns of 2023, ranked for the first time, includes everything from trippy animation and original music to historical reenactments (with a ganja twist) and precedent-setting media placements. There’s even a match made in stoner heaven. Happy holidaze!
10) Edie Parker x Madison Avenue
April 20, the dankest day on the calendar, is primetime for cannapreneurs to try to weave weed further into the popular consciousness. After all, the globally recognized holiday has permeated the culture far beyond its Deadhead roots. For its 4/20 effort, Edie Parker returned to Madison Avenue’s archives for a campaign heavy on feel-good nostalgia and familiar images. The brand, following its Virginia Slims homage from 2022, put its own spin on classic ads and taglines from “Got Milk?” and “Where’s the Beef?” to the infamous and orgasmic Herbal Essence “Yes! Yes! Yes!” commercials. Well-known one-sheets from Hollywood films also got the “Weedie Parker” treatment, proving that it’s perfectly OK to have some fun in cannabis marketing.