It’s a hopeful and exciting moment when you watch one of the most mainstream events in American culture, the Super Bowl, and realize that very culture may actually be changing when it comes to cannabis.
This past Sunday, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg appeared in a Super Bowl ad for T-Mobile that made light of and normalized cannabis use. The seemingly ill-matched duo — a culinary and home decor superstar plus a famous rapper and renowned cannabis enthusiast — traded weed puns in a 30-second ad called #BagOfUnlimited.
The commercial starts with Martha listing the benefits of T-Mobile’s unlimited wireless plan: “Unlimited data, taxes and fees included. It’s everything.” Snoop, lounging on a couch nearby, replies, “You might even say it’s all that and a bag of…” But before he can finish, Martha interrupts him, attempting to finish his sentence for him. While Snoop rummages around in his pockets for the bag in question, she has several suggestions, each one a subtle weed reference: purple cushy throw pillows, herb-roasted lamb chops, pot (she lifts the lid from a Dutch oven), greenery, and a can of bisque — sounds like “cannabis.”
The two mega-celebrities already share their own TV show, Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. Launched in fall 2016, on each episode they throw a dinner party for their celebrity friends, dropping a few weed jokes here and there amongst other witty banter.
Martha and Snoop’s TV show, as well as their Super Bowl ad appearance, is evidence of a growing cultural acceptance of the cannabis industry. As legislative efforts continue to expand access to medical and recreational cannabis throughout the country, and more prominent people speak out about ending prohibition, the logical next step is for mainstream culture to become more accepting of cannabis use. Past cannabis use in the media has been depicted in stereotypes like the lazy, unemployed, stoner, but when major celebrities are hired for Super Bowl ads relating to cannabis, it may indicate a turning of the tides.
In an another interesting and related turn of events, the NFL Players Association is currently considering a modification to their drug policy concerning cannabis usage.
T-Mobile America is based in Washington, a state where cannabis has been legal medically since 1998, and recreationally since 2012. Their headquarters location, along with gaining acceptance and legalization — over half of the states in the US now have laws legalizing cannabis in some form — may have helped spur the decision to use cannabis as a marketing avenue. T-Mobile said in a press release provided on their website that their approach was to use talent who are “game changers who go big themselves, get noticed and get people talking.” On the stars of their Super Bowl Ad, “they make the case — as only Martha and Snoop can — for sanity, simplicity and the pure pleasure of getting what you want without limits.” Do we hear a nod to cannabis in that sentiment?
This year, T-Mobile dove in headfirst with four different ads, totaling three minutes of various different celebrities, propelling them to the “Budweiser level” of Super Bowl advertising. T-Mobile appeared unafraid of controversy as they also included references to Fifty Shades of Grey. In what could be another nod to the cannabis industry, Peter DeLuca, T-Mobile’s SVP of Brand and Advertising, said of their strategy, “We look out for what’s going on across America, what’s happening in real time across culture, and find things that fit.”
Jason Lucas, Executive Creative Director for Publicis Seattle, T-Mobile’s creative agency, said about the ad, “Our client, T-Mobile, is always on point with pop culture, and this felt like the perfect conversation for these two celebs to have right now. The comedy comes from them having the conversation you think they are having, but despite piquing Snoop’s interest, Martha is wholesomely oblivious to what he’s looking for.”
Nice move, T-Mobile. The support of large organizations, along with prominent figures speaking out, is crucial to furthering acceptance of the cannabis industry.