Did CBS Halt WeedMaps' Pre-Paid Digital Billboard Ad In Time Square?


I have been friends with the people at WeedMaps for a couple of years now, and I have always been a fan of what they do. They have done a lot to increase safe access for patients by letting them know where to find the good stuff, and their CEO Justin Hartfield has done a lot by giving his money and his time to reform organizations. Earlier today I posted an article talking about how WeedMaps was launching a billboard ad in Time Square, which I thought was outstanding.

weedmaps times square new york marijuana billboard cbs

However, it appears that my joy may have been short lived, as it seems that CBS has pulled the plug on the billboard ad. The ad featured an eight second spot that consisted of a puff of smoke along with WeedMaps' signature smile logo and a link to their site. WeedMaps recently launched a public awareness campaign to help legalize marijuana in New York. Employees went to check out the ad this morning, when it was scheduled to first appear. But according to BizFeeds.Com:

But when staffers went up to 42nd Street to check things out, they saw ads for Gulf petroleum products, Penguin Books and other companies, but nothing for Weedmaps. A short while later, Weedmaps alleges it learned that the spot had been pulled at the last minute, pending review by lawyers. 

This winter, Hartfield, who sits on the board of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, says he learned the advertiser, called Neutron Media, of New York, had reached out to the organization about placing a commercial on the CBS jumbotron in Times Square.

NORML, a nonprofit, didn't have the resources, but Weedmaps did. So Hartfield did what any entrepreneur would do--he reached out to Neutron and said he wanted to run a spot for his company and his New York campaign. Neutron took the business, and this winter Weedmaps signed a contract for a 60-day spot, forked over close to $50,000, and then spent two months creating the advertisement.

There seems to be some confusion as to who made the final decision to not display the ad. CBS owns the digital billboard, but Neutron Media runs the sales for CBS. According to Neutron:

"As far as I am aware the ad has not been pulled, it's up for approval," says Ray Shapira, the account executive from Neutron in charge of Weedmaps' account. "But there's not a lot you can do when you're dealing with legal departments."

A CBS spokewoman said CBS does not decide which ads run on its jumbotron, and that Neutron manages ad sales. A Weedmaps spokesman says the company has written correspondence from Neutron that says CBS has final approval of advertisements.

I'm not as concerned as to where to place the blame, as much as I am concerned that something so benign could be construed as inappropriate. But then again, mainstream media is involved, and they have a long history of shunning the marijuana movement and industry. The funny thing is, WeedMaps will likely get far more than $50,000 worth of free advertising as the media storm ensues over this debacle. Still, it would have been cool to see the WeedMaps smiley face in Time Square :(