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Marijuana: The Savior of Print Advertising?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Hey, stranger things have happened. And it sure looks like this may be the case.

For years, publishers have been racking their collective brains trying to figure out how to stay relevant and keep their jobs in lieu of this terrible thing known as the Internet. It wouldn't be such a problem if people really cared about the news in papers, but the publishing model has been to make the reader care about the advertising even more. To wit, things suck right now for the fabled printing press. 

Brands aren't advertising as much in the newspaper anymore because they know where to find readers — online. Who would be so concerned for the educated reader, which many C-suite types believe does not exist on online news websites, that they would actually consider advertising in major national newspapers? And then, like a vapor in a puff-puff-pass moment, the answer came: marijuana

Last week, in The New York Times, was what could be the answer to publishing and the savior of the ancient medium some of us love called "the newspaper." And, funny as it may seem, the Old Grey Lady (as she is sometimes called by her publishing contemporaries) started it when her editorial board urged Congress to repeal the ban on marijuana. As awe-inspiring as that was to many, it became an open invitation to companies like Leafly, from whence that advertisement came. The company, which calls itself "the world's largest cannabis information community" and is backed by Privateer Holdings, a private equity firm that invests in the legal marijuana industry, thought now was the time to take out a full-page ad. 

After all, given this op-ed and the current state of affairs, who is going to say no? 

“If we would have called them a few months ago, they would have not accepted this ad,” said Scott Lowry, brand manager at Privateer Holdings. “We did this at this time because of the signing of the Compassion Care Act in July. And then when The New York Times decided to do the op-ed piece, it just seemed like the right time.”

Yeah, that, and the fact the entire board of directors are worshiping at the ceramic statues of the Ochs-Sulzberger clan, praying for guidance about advertising to any ne'er-do-well willing to purchase a series of full-page and cover ads. The headline "Just say know" is a lovely homophonic expression urging people to understand what is really going on about hippie lettuce through the CCA. While Leafly would not reveal the cost of the ad, it pointed to the Times' open rate of $179,908 for such a placement.

And that is why the Old Grey Lady is considering going to the salon and changing her color to green — not for money, for the other stuff. Talk about waiting to inhale. Yes, she can. 

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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