In a sign that the political winds are changing, High Times — the 41-year-old monthly magazine dedicated to all things marijuana — has landed its first ever non-pot-related advertiser. IFC, the cable TV channel owned by AMC Networks, has taken out an ad in the October issue for its show “Comedy Bang! Bang!” Publisher Mary McEvoy, an 11-year veteran of the magazine, said, “This is a first. We hope it unplugs the dam.”
McEvoy concedes that over the years there has been an occasional ad from a movie studio or a network — but that was only if the film or TV show dealt with marijuana. The ads in the magazine market everything from fertilizer to rolling papers, bongs and, more recently, cannabis seeds.
For most of its existence, marijuana possession and sale was illegal — sometimes a felony. Now, says the director of advertising, Matt Stang, “in four states it’s completely legal to possess: Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado.” He also said Washington, DC, passed legislation decriminalizing it. Stang said he thinks the drive to legalize pot will follow the path blazed by those who lobbied to recognize gay marriage.
“It’s the next big issue,” he predicted.
Medical marijuana is now legal in at least 22 states, including New York, he said. “Comedy Bang! Bang!” is trying to raise its profile because it just added a new sidekick, Kid Cudi, to appear with the host of the 4-year-old show, Scott Aukerman. Cudi replaced former sidekick Reggie Watts. Blake Callaway, IFC executive vice president of marketing and digital video, said the deal is actually part of a promotional swap.
“It can definitely start a conversation,” said Callaway.
While it was nice to get the print ad, Callaway said he was “actually more interested in their social media aspects. They have 5,000,000 followers on Facebook.” High Times does not disclose its circulation, but it is estimated to be close to 150,000 — nearly all by subscription.
The IFC ad pictures Cudi and Aukerman on a playground seesaw with some forest animals, a ring of clouds, a spaceman and wind-up chattering dentures. “It’s kind of an absurd, trippy environment,” said Callaway.
Cudi does have a bit of a pot theme in his past — from when he was on the short-lived HBO comedy “How to Make It in America.”
There, he was depicted as the entrepreneur who started a dog walking service named Canines & Cannabis.
By Keith J. Kelley - The NY Post/July 14, 2015
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