Back in 2012, I became friends with someone who may be the most successful person in the cannabis industry. This person doesn’t know that I am writing this article, so I will keep his name out of it. He created one of the most recognizable and successful brands in the cannabis space, and in many ways is a pioneer in the industry. I don’t talk to him as often as I used to, but I still think very highly of him and value the advice he gave me over the years.
One conversation that I always remember us having is in regards to large mainstream companies advertising with cannabis media outlets. He was uniquely placed to weigh in on the topic on a level that no one else was given the circles he was a part of at the time and continues to be involved in. I asked him at the time (2012 or 2013?) what it would take for large companies to advertise in marijuana media outlets.
Large companies had passively targeted the cannabis community up to that point, but none of them had come out with an advertising campaign that was undeniably focused towards the cannabis consuming demographic. The cannabis consuming population in America has been very large for a long time, much larger than other consumer populations that companies have dedicated huge sums of money to in an attempt to try to win their consumer dollars.
It was obvious back then that marijuana was still very much taboo, and no matter how many cannabis consumers there were in America, or how much of their disposable income they spent on non-cannabis products and services, large companies would pass up the opportunity to market to them because of the stigma involved. When I asked my friend what he thought it would take for that to change, he said that he had been told by national advertising reps that it would take California and New York voting to legalize marijuana.
He explained to me that the largest advertising companies were located in California and New York and that until those dominos fell in the fight to end cannabis prohibition, the executives and reps he talked to said they would avoid the marijuana world. New York still prohibits cannabis for adult use, but California voters approved marijuana legalization last year. In just a matter of days, adult-use cannabis sales are going to roll out in California, which is going to be a big deal.
In anticipation of the rollout of adult-use sales in California, fast food chain Jack in the Box announced that it would be selling a new meal in collaboration with the Snoop Dogg backed marijuana media outlet Merry Jane. Per Forbes:
Anticipating that weed will be legal in California (for adults, for adults) come the first of the year, Jack In The Box–a burger chain that got its start in San Diego over half a century ago–is wasting no time getting ready. It will partner with Merry Jane, an online publication devoted to marijuana news and culture, to offer a “Merry Munchie Meal” at some of its California locations.
Merry Jane is run by an entrepreneur named Ted Chung, who is also known as Snoop Dogg’s business manager.
The meal includes curly fries, onion rings, two tacos, crispy chicken strips, and mini churros, all for the stoner-friendly price of $4.20. The ‘Merry Munchie Meal’ will not be on sale across the country, only in California. From what I understand, it will actually not be on sale all across the state of California, just in Long Beach (Snoop Dogg’s hometown). Reviews of the meal have been mixed, with people that eat at Jack in the Box expressing that it’s a good deal, and people that do not like Jack in the Box providing all types of colorful language when describing the meal deal.
Full disclosure – I do eat at Jack in the Box from time to time. It is one of my guilty pleasures. I am not endorsing the fast-food chain or even fast food in general for that matter. But I do eat it, for what that’s worth. The meal’s release in itself is not that significant in my opinion. After all, Jack in the Box has had ‘Jack’s Munchie Meals’ since 2012. The Merry Munchie Meal is not that different than the other munchie meal deals, other than the combination of items included is different and the price is cheaper. But it’s not like brand new items were created exclusively for the Merry Munchie Meal.
It’s also not as if Jack in the Box came out of nowhere with its targeting of the marijuana consuming community. Many have claimed that the munchie meal deals were originally created in a passive attempt to target the late-night stoner crowd. The same has been said about Taco Bell’s ‘fourth meal’ advertising campaign. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, the stoner demographic was who Jack in the Box was targeting with the commercial below which aired over a decade ago:
The commercial was so popular that Jack in the Box later made a second one, as seen below:
On one hand, I thought that the commercials were definitely clever, on the other hand, I didn’t like that they seemed to promote stoned driving. But that aside, the popularity of the commercials was undeniable, which you think would have encouraged Jack in the Box to come out and directly target cannabis consumers earlier than it did. Those marketing campaigns passively targeted cannabis consumers, which is different than the current Merry Munchie Meal marketing campaign.
The Merry Munchie Meal marketing campaign makes it very clear that Jack in the Box is now courting the cannabis community. People don’t have to make inferences anymore. All cheap ingredients aside, the Merry Munchie Meal is a significant moment in the battle to bring marijuana consumption into the mainstream. Whether you like Jack in the Box or not, I think we can all agree that such a large company now openly targeting the cannabis community is a sign of the times, and reflects how much the stigma surrounding cannabis has faded in recent years.
Throw the meal out of the conversation, and for that matter throw the fast-food brand out of the conversation. A massive mainstream company is now openly courting cannabis consumers via a very public marketing campaign. That’s a big deal. I have read a number of articles on non-cannabis media outlets predicting that this will not become a trend. I completely disagree.
According to Gallup polling, over 145 million Americans have tried cannabis at least once in their lives. Between 38-40 million Americans identify as being regular cannabis consumers. Now that the taboo is being lifted, companies are going to go after that demographic. It’s not exactly rocket science as to why they would want to do so. The numbers involved are too great not to.
I am hopeful that cannabis consumers become a force to be reckoned with in the business world, just as we have become in the political world. I hope that cannabis consumers aren’t just treated as sheep to fleece money from, but that instead cannabis consumers step up and demand a greater level of ethics and morals from the companies they buy products from, just as they have from the initiatives and candidates that they have supported in the political world. If that happens, we can really do a lot of good!