Thanks largely to the Sixties' LSD-fueled psychedelic craziness (and a hefty bit of nostalgia bias), drugs and counterculture have a broad association with creativity. I was excited when Colorado legalized marijuana because, I thought, "Now I finally have a reason to land somewhere between New York City and Los Angeles," and "Stoners are fixin' to make some kick ass ads for weed!" But alas, the first marijuana commercial (posted to YouTube in February) is hitting major networks and it's horrible... even if you watch it high.
One visit to marijuanadoctors.com reveals the company's utilitarian bent. The company calls themselves "the only service that connects patients with physicians for medical marijuana recommendations." You're not gonna find any "free love" and "peace on earth" messaging there; these guys mean business. It's a one stop shop to find out everything you may need to know about medical marijuana, your local caregivers and state-by-state legalization statuses. But does a company's focus on functionality mean they can't have a funny, creative commercial?
Not at all. If anything, the Marijuana Doctors tried a little too hard. I mean, I get the message: "drug dealers are bad, marijuana isn't." That's a compound message and not as simple to communicate as they apparently thought. In the commercial, they depict the dealer as a dangerous source compared to the security and quality assured by their services. Mission 1 accomplished: drug dealers are bad! You wouldn't buy sushi from that guy, so don't buy marijuana from him. But what about mission 2: marijuana isn't bad? What do sushi and marijuana have in common other than the fact that buying them from a questionable source can make you quite ill (a fact that applies to a number of commodities). Mission 2 FAIL!
The spot would have been much more effective if the dealer had actually been a marijuana dealer. Then our MDs could clearly make a 1 to 1 comparison and declare to their waiting audience, "Don't buy from this guy. Let us tell you where to get marijuana because we're better, we're safer, we're legal."
But that's on the serious side. If they really wanted to be funny, they should have just actually been funny. Picture this...
Everyone's been at a party trying to hunt down a dealer (don't pretend to be all holier-than-thou now). Two stoners are at a college party looking to get high. As the DJ blasts Ke$ha, our stoners spot an older dude in the corner wearing a lab coat, stethescope and head mirror. They walk over and, with familiarity, greet the man, "DUDE! You're the weed doctor! Glad you're here." Of course, the weed doctor dryly explains to them that in order to actually get medical marijuana it has to be prescribed and that he'd be happy to recommend a local physician who can evaluate whether or not medical marijuana is needed in their case. Confused, the stoners say "Dude, if you're not gonna get us high, why are you here?" They gesture toward the chaotic room of partiers. The weed doctor smiles and says, "Who me? Oh! I LOVE Ke$ha!" - Court Williams