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CBD Advertising: 6 Ways To Promote Your CBD Brand

Since the passage of the Farm Bill in 2018, which legalized the production of hemp for the first time since 1937, cannabidiol (CBD) has become one of the hottest trends in consumer goods. From topicals and gummies to sports drinks and tinctures, CBD has spawned a $1.9 billion industry in the U.S. alone.

That success is not without its own marketing challenges, however. Although cannabis is now legal in 19 states, it’s still illegal at the federal level. As a result, from an advertising perspective, it’s treated much the same as guns, tobacco, or gambling — rigorous restrictions or outright bans apply.

It doesn’t help either that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve any product containing CBD other than Epidiolex. As a result, CBD brands are prohibited from making any medical claims about the effectiveness of their products, even when supported by anecdotal reviews or peer-reviewed studies.

Overcoming Cannabis Marketing Challenges

Given that the major digital advertising channels like Facebook, Instagram, Google, Amazon, and — most recently — Snapchat and TikTok do not allow CBD brands to run paid ads, the only viable option to get your message out and differentiate yourself is with valuable organic content supported by strong SEO strategies , beautiful branding, interactive websites, user-generated social content, and earned media. That’s not a bad strategy either. By investing in expert-led, educational content that references authoritative sources (.edu, .org, etc.), brands can quickly rise up the search rankings.

But these only go so far. While effective, these channels are becoming saturated, and brands are missing out on the growth-accelerating power of paid acquisition, leaving a booming industry to wonder: Where can you advertise a CBD brand?

Can You Advertise CBD on Facebook and Instagram?

Although it is possible to post organic CBD content on both Facebook and Instagram, neither platform will allow any ads that feature references to CBD, cannabis, marijuana, or hemp. Remove any explicit references to these and there is a chance that your ad will be approved, but even then, it is not uncommon for Facebook to reject campaigns that comply with its policies.

Facebook has lifted its initial blanket ban and will now (in theory) allow ads for CBD topicals but not ingestibles. Bear in mind, however, that Facebook crawlers will also search the domain and can block ads that link to pages promoting the sale of ingestible CBD products.

The most successful brands will either focus on the lifestyle and well-being aspects of CBD rather than its sale or will work with influencers to create educational content that evades the ban. Others will take a craftier approach and scrub a second domain of all references to CBD, which can link to the sales page once Facebook approves the ads.

Can You Advertise CBD on Google?

No joy here either. Google does not allow ads that promote the use or sale of cannabis, CBD, or hemp. To circumvent this rule, brands should focus on educational content that draws visitors to a landing page in the same spirit. At this point, the brand can then be retargeted with ads or emails that link to a sales page. Except yet again, there is an obstacle to overcome here too.

New Challenges for SMS Retargeting

Since May 2021, several SMS platforms have started terminating services for cannabis companies , effectively imposing a ban on SMS marketing and retargeting for CBD brands. The bigger carriers, such as T-Mobile, now require companies to register for approval, with severe fines for unregistered traffic.

Brands who don’t want to fall afoul of Federal Communications Commission, CAN-SPAM, and Telephone Consumer Protection Act regulations should strip all references to CBD and cannabis from their text messages, implement a double opt-in and STOP-to-opt-out option for subscribers, and remember to block any outgoing campaigns to states where cannabis isn’t legal. As with PPC advertising, a potential work-around is to link to a site that has been stripped of cannabis-related content, but many will find that this rather neuters the quick and frictionless nature of SMS in the first place.

Clearly, CBD advertising is a complex, nuanced undertaking. One solution is to outsource your marketing to an agency with a hive mind of expert marketers constantly developing creative strategies to navigate exactly such situations. But if you’re going to attempt to do it yourself, here are six ways you can effectively advertise your CBD brand and products, despite limitations on major platforms:

1 – Influencer Marketing

There’s no shortage of high-profile celebrities who have jumped on board the cannabis bandwagon, but even lesser-known figures who typify the CBD lifestyle can make a big impact. Influencer marketing allows brands to reach a wider audience on social by tapping into the communities of tastemakers in relevant industries. Your brand can leverage the trust that influencers have built with their followers to promote your products in an organic way. Sometimes, picking the right influencers for your brand can be tricky — keep in mind that sometimes influencers with smaller, niche audiences can make better partners for brands than influencers with broader reach but less engagement.

2 – Affiliate Marketing

It hasn’t taken long for some hemp manufacturers to become big CBD brands, and the sector overall continues to settle into clearly defined niches. That landscape supports affiliate marketing, through which publishers generate traffic to your website. Because affiliate fees are completely performance-based, working with affiliate networks offers your brand a low-risk way to generate quality traffic. Be sure that your conversion and retention strategies are in place, as customers from affiliate partners often present the highest potential customer lifetime value.

3 – Native Advertising

Ostracized from search engine and social media advertising, many brands are naturally consolidating their efforts in communities where CBD fans are already gathering. Native advertising is a form of advertising, typically within a digital publication, where placements look like relevant content. By placing your content into publications like Civilized , with millions of active readers of all shapes and sizes, you can leverage their audiences to grow awareness for your brand.

4 – Content Syndication

Similar to native advertising, content syndication is another great way to leverage your content to drive brand awareness. Platforms like FieldTest can help republish your content on relevant third-party sites, allowing you to put the right content-based advertisements below or near similar articles. Relevant is the key word here, and it’s important to work with a syndicator who understands the various CBD subcultures — so that your pet CBD, for example, doesn’t end up alongside something like fitness or medicinal marijuana content.

5 – Out-of-Home

Billboards. Sounds old-school, but it works. This traditional form of marketing presents a great way to grow awareness and move products in specific retail locations. The drawback? It can get expensive. Bear in mind, too, that an out-of-home CBD ad is not like a soda or clothing ad. You’ll need to know the local and state laws (e.g., no placement near schools or places of worship), and should steer clear of marijuana-derived CBD or ingestibles.

6 – Podcast Ads

Marketing your brand to dedicated podcast listeners is another great way to boost awareness, especially as CBD graduates from a product to a lifestyle culture. Though it can be expensive, placing ads into relevant podcasts associates your brand with personalities their listeners trust.

Conclusion

The CBD industry continues to spread like a weed through organic channels. With these paid acquisition methods, CBD brands can add fuel to the fire of organic growth, despite extremely limiting restrictions on major digital platforms. As with any paid acquisition strategy, brands should be attentive to data, always testing and optimizing strategies to maximize budgets for ROI.

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Media Clips

Legal experts don’t expect recreational marijuana to replace medical cannabis in New York State

Rochester Business Journal | January 21, 2022

Rochester Corporate partner and Cannabis practice co-leader Lori Green is quoted throughout this special report for her thought leadership on how New York’s legalization of recreational cannabis sales may affect the state’s medical marijuana industry.

The intersection of cannabis and wine buds environmental complication

Cannabis Business Executive | November 03, 2021

San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt and Los Angeles associate Stratton Constantinides, both of the Affordable Housing & Real Estate group and Environmental & Land Use team, contributed this article on the challenges and opportunities facing businesses that produce both wine and cannabis in California.

DOL – Most employers can no longer test employees for marijuana

WHAM-TV | October 21, 2021

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding analyzes new guidance from New York State’s Department of Labor regarding the implementation of the state’s law legalizing recreational marijuana use. Under the law, most employers are prohibited from testing employees for marijuana or discriminating on the basis of cannabis use.

Employer conundrum: To test or not to test?

Politico Pro | October 05, 2021

San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Hillary Baca, also a member of the firm’s Cannabis practice, is quoted in this article on how pressures of the recent labor shortage and changing attitudes toward cannabis have some employers reconsidering drug-testing policies. The article is based on a client alert Hillary co-authored with Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding.

Navigate cannabis legalization, avoid employment litigation

HR Dive | August 13, 2021

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding co-wrote this contributed article highlighting three common pitfalls for employers as they comply with the patchwork of state and federal laws regulating the use of legal cannabis by their employees.

Federal roadblocks may slow recreational marijuana industry in NYS

Rochester Business Journal | August 06, 2021

This article, focusing on the federal prohibition on marijuana and the challenges faced by businesses, quotes Cannabis co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green on the risks to banks and credit unions when financing cannabis-related businesses and alternative financing options for businesses that want to enter this industry.

Illinois’ cannabis market: What investors and entrepreneurs need to know

Benzinga | July 09, 2021

This article on what investors and entrepreneurs should know about Illinois’ cannabis industry quotes Chicago Corporate partner Gary Levenstein, an active member of the firm’s Cannabis practice, on the state’s commitment to social equity and its financial performance as well as how sales to residents of bordering states where cannabis remains illegal could be helping Illinois’ cannabis industry.

Amazon has stopped testing job seekers for cannabis: Here’s what it means for you

GreenState | June 15, 2021

Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted in this article on Amazon’s announcement it will stop testing job seekers for cannabis, noting the impact of Amazon’ s decision at a national level and adding that Amazon’ s support of the MORE Act lends a great deal of credibility to the proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level.

Banks are still afraid of cannabis. Here is why.

Boston Business Journal | May 12, 2021

This article looking at why the majority of Massachusetts banks are still wary of cannabis-related transactions quotes Boston Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense partner Rob Fisher on the compliance and regulatory burden banks face and that cannabis transactions may not be worth the trouble.

The Cannabis industry should employ careful tax planning when allocating between cost of goods sold and ordinary business expenses

Cannabis Business Executive | May 09, 2021

Corporate partner and Tax team member Rick Cox and Corporate associate Vince Tennant, both of the New York City office, contributed this article on careful tax planning for cannabis companies, which are denied certain business expenses since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.

Cannabis operators, insiders, and experts discuss New York’s cannabis legalization, equity plans, revenue possibilities, and future cannabis market potential

Cannabis Law Report | April 19, 2021

This wide-ranging discussion of New York’s legalization of recreational cannabis includes commentary from both Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green and Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding.

National cannabis attorney on NY legalization and its many business opportunities

Albany Business Review | April 12, 2021

In this Q&A feature, Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green discussed New York’ s legalization of recreational cannabis and what it means for businesses looking to get into the industry as well as those already working in the state under a medical marijuana license.

What does marijuana legalization mean for employment in New York State?

Spectrum News | March 31, 2021

This news segment on the legalization of marijuana in New York quotes Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding on how the enforcement of marijuana in the workplace will likely be similar to alcohol.

Weed and the workplace: What legalization could mean for testing, possession, and use

WROC-TV | March 29, 2021

The following television news segment on New York State’s pending marijuana legalization bill quotes Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding on how the enforcement of marijuana in the workplace will likely be similar to alcohol.

If recreational marijuana is legalized in New York, what happens to the workforce?

WHAM-TV | March 27, 2021

The following TV news segments cover New York’s pending marijuana legalization bill and how it may affect the workplace. Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted on the exclusion of marijuana in drug screens and its protected use outside the workplace. Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green is quoted in WHEC-TV’s segment on how the group is staying on top of marijuana legislation across the U.S., to better serve NP’s clients.

Legal recreational marijuana and the workplace

WHEC-TV | March 26, 2021

The following TV news segments cover New York’s pending marijuana legalization bill and how it may affect the workplace. Rochester Labor & Employment partner Kim Harding is quoted on the exclusion of marijuana in drug screens and its protected use outside the workplace. Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green is quoted in WHEC-TV’s segment on how the group is staying on top of marijuana legislation across the U.S., to better serve NP’s clients.

High crimes and misdemeanors – Cannabis legalization and criminal justice reform

Cannabis Business Executive | March 19, 2021

New York City Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense partner Travis Hill contributed this article analyzing the two pending marijuana bills before the New York state legislature. The article is based on Travis’ recent client alert.

Regulatory and taste issues slow CBD formulation efforts

Food Business News | March 16, 2021

Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense deputy practice group leader and Boston partner Hannah Bornstein is quoted in this article on cannabidiol in food and beverage products for her outlook on therapeutic and marketing claims made by F&B manufacturers as areas of concern for the Food and Drug Administration.

Eaze exec tells jury he helped fool banks on pot biz billing

Law360 | March 02, 2021

This article, on the trial of two men accused of tricking banks into approving marijuana-related transactions for delivery service Eaze Technologies, covers Tuesday’s testimony by an Eaze executive under an immunity agreement. The story mentions Boston Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense partner Rob Fisher and associate Scott Seitz for representing the Eaze executive in the case, which could have profound consequences for the U.S. marijuana industry.

Cuomo issues amendments to his legalization proposal—next steps for legalized cannabis in New York

Cannabis Business Executive | February 25, 2021

Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green and New York City Complex Commercial Disputes associate Catherine Savio contributed this article on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s amendments to a proposed plan to legalize adult-use cannabis in New York State.

Get ready: Legalized adult-use marijuana in N.Y. isn’t far off

Rochester Business Journal | February 12, 2021

Rochester Corporate partner and Cannabis practice co-leader Lori Green, Rochester Corporate associate Brandon Coyle, and New York City Complex Commercial Disputes associate Catherine Savio, all of the Cannabis practice, contributed this article discussing the legislative path toward legalized adult-use marijuana in New York State and best practices for businesses to prepare now.

New York Takes Next Step Toward Legalizing Recreational Marijuana—How you can best prepare for and benefit from legalized recreational use

Cannabis Business Executive | January 13, 2021

Following New York’s reintroduction of a bill that would legalize and tax adult-use recreational marijuana, Rochester Corporate partner and Cannabis practice co-leader Lori Green, New York City Complex Commercial Disputes associate Catherine Savio, and Rochester Corporate associate Brandon Coyle contributed this article highlighting key focus areas for those looking to enter the potential new industry.

It’s High Time that Albany Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Crain’s New York | January 01, 2021

This op-ed by Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green, which published the same day that adult recreational use of cannabis in New Jersey became legal, makes the case for New York State to close the gap by discussing the benefits of job creation, tax revenue, and racial and social justice reform.

Novel challenge emerges for denials of PPP forgiveness

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | November 25, 2020

This article—covering challenges that some businesses, including indirect marijuana businesses, could face as they apply to have PPP loans forgiven—quotes Boston Complex Commercial Disputes partner Morgan Nighan on borrowers’ potential legal argument that loan forgiveness denials are based on SBA guidance that is unlawful because it conflicts with language of the CARES Act.

Cannabis legalized in New Jersey — Is New York next?

Cannabis Business Executive | November 25, 2020

On the heels of New Jersey’s vote to legalize cannabis, Rochester Corporate partner and Cannabis practice co-leader Lori Green, New York City Complex Commercial Disputes associate Catherine Savio, and Rochester Corporate associate Brandon Coyle wrote this contributed article on potential side effects for neighboring New York and actions for businesses anticipating legalization in the Empire State.

No Worker’s Comp for Medical Marijuana, SJC Rules

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly | November 04, 2020

This article, covering the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision that a workers’ comp insurer could not be required to reimburse for medical marijuana expenses, quotes Cannabis practice co-leader and Boston Government Investigations & White Collar Defense partner Rob Fisher on the issue of forcing an industry to get involved in something that’s illegal at the federal level.

Mass. Pot Co. Says Regulator Sat On Application for Months

Law360 | September 21, 2020

Manchester Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense partner Mark Knights is quoted in this article on a Massachusetts marijuana dispensary’s lawsuit alleging the state’s Cannabis Control Commission has failed to take action on the dispensary’s license application for nearly three times the 90-day prescribed turnaround time. The article mentions Mark and Boston Government Investigations & White-Collar Defense associate Charles Dell’Anno for representing the dispensary, Northeast Alternatives.

On High Alert: Running a Retail Business in the Age of the COVID Pandemic

Marijuana Venture | August 10, 2020

San Francisco partner Alison Torbitt, who co-leads NP’s Food, Beverage & Agribusiness team, and San Francisco Labor & Employment associate Hilary Baca co-wrote this contributed article on how cannabis retailers can revamp their stores and policies to stay in compliance with state and local laws, while helping to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses to customers and employees.

Experts advise on how businesses should plan for eventual legalization of recreational marijuana

Rochester Business Journal | August 07, 2020

In its “Business of Cannabis” special report on recreational marijuana, the Rochester Business Journal extensively quotes Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green in two articles for her outlook on legalized recreational use and the potential positive economic impact to businesses, both local and statewide.

Legalization of recreational cannabis likely coming down the pike for NY

Rochester Business Journal | August 07, 2020

In its “Business of Cannabis” special report on recreational marijuana, the Rochester Business Journal extensively quotes Cannabis practice co-leader and Rochester Corporate partner Lori Green in two articles for her outlook on legalized recreational use and the potential positive economic impact to businesses, both local and statewide.

Employer zero-tolerance drug policies put into question

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin | April 25, 2019

Chicago Complex Commercial Disputes associate Laura Bacon authored this article about the issues employers may face related to marijuana use policies and drug testing, as more states pass recreational and medical cannabis laws.

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