Contributor: Kenneth Clark
Throughout our entire cannabis-loving lives, we have come across posters, banners, billboards, and even televised advertisements “warning” the general public about the “horrors” of marijuana use. For the most part, they have been absolutely laughable with their attempts to scare people away from this harmless plant. To say that they have done themselves a disservice with these multiple failures would be the understatement of the century.
If I had to wager a bet on when this whole debacle started, I would have to venture a guess that it really took off with the release of the hilarious anti-cannabis film from way back in the day, affectionately titled, “Reefer Madness.”
In this comical depiction of cannabis use, there’s a series of blunders, follies, and seemingly dangerous things that occur, simply because somebody chose to “risk it all” by enjoying a little bit of marijuana. Even though it is completely baseless and not even in the same ballpark as actual facts about cannabis, I would strongly suggest giving it a watch. Especially after a joint (or two) – it is hilarious!
If nothing else, many remember the archaic poster art for this historic film about cannabis. The B-movie esque font choice, the frightened looks on the actors…it all seemed to burn a hole in the collective conscience of society. Much like how a forgotten joint can scorch a hole in the basketball shorts of an absent-minded stoner.
Using these same techniques and motifs, a series of pro-marijuana posters started to spring up. These faux-ads were never emblazoned on the side of a bus or broadcast for millions of people to watch. No, these parodied versions were mostly seen on dorm room walls and in the back of Hot Topics’ poster section. Sure, they provided a chuckle, but they never really got the point across that marijuana, in all actuality, is completely safe. If anything, it is incredibly therapeutic and beneficial for millions of Americans dealing with any sort of pain or suffering.
While we already are more than aware of the multitude of benefits that cannabis can bring along with it, nobody has really utilized this opportunity to “lean into” the B.S. propaganda that used to be (and in some places, still is) being spread about this wonderful organic essence. What is crazy is that in the locations that oppose the legalization of marijuana most, they have the highest cases of opioid deaths and addictions. Though it goes without saying at this point, the implementation of legalized cannabis would all but eliminate these damaging blemishes on our society.
However, as long as money-hungry prescription companies are in power, the climb for nationwide legalization remains a very steep one. Even when we do get around to finally getting to that point of coast-to-coast legal medicine, chances are these very same companies will do their best to taint the industry and jack up prices on mediocre buds, solely to profit off the misery of the American people – again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that, nor should you. I mean, at the end of the day, that is their business model, after all.
But, I digress.
The anti-marijuana ads and commercials have recently become a thing of the past. In fact, I believe the last spot I saw that was anti-cannabis involved a melting girl relaxing her gooey body into her seemingly super-comfy couch as her friend looked on. This humorous depiction of what was obviously top-shelf indica didn’t dissuade the smoking public from marijuana – if anything, it reminded us all how incredibly relaxing a couple puffs of ganja can be after a long day.
Since that era, the only cannabis-related imagery the public has seen are the rise of legal marijuana companies and dispensaries throwing up billboards at any corner they can. At least, that is how it has been in San Francisco for the last handful of years or so, anyway. And rightfully so. These places of business are just as legitimate as any other company trying to get the word out to potential customers. But, as cool as it is to see such signage in this new age of legalization, they really don’t vary much when it comes to design.
More often than not, companies continue to rely on very minimalistic approaches to their billboards, posters, and ads. There is typically a monochromatic color scheme, some simple font usage, as well as a few artistic weed leaves here and there. Which is all well and good – but where’s the pizazz? Where is the personality? I’m sorry, and I don’t speak for everyone (obviously), but if there is nothing memorable about your ads, it will be really hard for me to remember you when it comes time to replenish my ever-dwindling supply.
Well, it looks as though at least one San Francisco-based cannabis company had that same thought when they were coming up with their new series of advertisements. Instead of trying to do more of the same like their counterparts, or avoid the schemes seen utilized by their anti-marijuana constituents – they decided to do what nobody else was doing and, effectively, “lean into” the negative ads that used to be spread far and wide across this country.
In these posters, there would often be a strongly worded phrase alluding to cannabis as “The Devil’s Lettuce” or something to that effect. It was mainly driven by a religious undertone, all in hopes of spooking potential smokers into avoiding cannabis altogether. But that is where the folks over at Sparx Cannabis saw an opportunity.
In their latest round of advertisements, they directly parody such an archaic tactic. Not only does it show a 1940’s-style woman rocking an unlit joint in her mouth, there is a Tenacious D-style devil looking on in sheer delight. With his expression seemingly saying, “Yes…Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, Sweetie.” Also, just to make sure that nothing was lost in translation, the slogan on the poster reads, “The truth about Sparx Cannabis…Devil Knows Best!”
Atop this very catchy piece of advertising, the phrase, “If smoking is a sin, sin the best, sin Sparx,’ is seen. As soon as I saw this brilliantly crafted piece of cannabis advertisement, I couldn’t help but applaud their efforts. So many companies are concerned with trying to appeal to everyone that they forget to showcase their personality. Without any knowledge of their company, other than this ad, I am already a huge fan of Sparx Cannabis. Why wouldn’t I be? They seem far more like a friend than a company. In short, I would say that this sort of tactic makes them look like a local pizza joint, as opposed to a Domino’s, if you will.
By that, I mean that, much like the places that sell by the slice, they are in it for the “love of the game.” Or, in this case, “for the love of the ganja.” While other places that are more money-hungry and fearful of turning people off with any sort of humor-related ads are stuck twiddling their thumbs trying to think of “catchy” ways to bring in new business.
Hopefully, more companies will see how memorable and authentic this sort of advertising can be – especially with impressionable stoners, such as myself, who are always looking for a new place to buy bud. I suppose only time will tell. But for the time being, I am planning a trip over to Sparx, and it is only because of this amazing ad. And I strongly suggest all my fellow San Francisco stoners do the same.