Academy Award-winning writer and director Spike Jonze didn’t take home any hardware at last night’s Oscars, but his new project is already generating a new kind of buzz.
With the help of Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams, the Her director stole a little shine from Hollywood’s biggest night with the debut of his latest commercial — a socially conscious advertisement for MedMen dispensaries.
In the two minute spot titled “A New Normal,” Williams narrates the history of cannabis in America through rotating dioramas, touching on the founding fathers’ hemp farms, reefer madness, hippie counterculture, mass incarceration, stop-and-frisk policing, and, finally, legalization.
“Madness? How about wellness?” Williams says. “How about everyday good people are using it to calm their pain, their stress, their anxieties? And a product that drove people to the black market is now creating a new global market. That's a lot of jobs.”
In the final scene of the ad, a happy couple returns home from a shopping trip with a MedMen bag amongst their clothing and groceries just as Williams reveals the campaign’s tagline: “A new normal.”
MedMen, which is currently running licensed dispensaries in California, New York, Illinois, Nevada, and Arizona, has dubbed itself the “Apple Store of Weed,” and has previously made waves with large-scale billboard advertisements and a heavy-handed PR plan across the states where it operates.
The retail chain has also made headlines for a number of lawsuits, including claims of labor violations from employees of the company’s West Hollywood dispensary that note improper payment, a lack of overtime pay, and failure to award proper meal and break times. MedMen has also seen lawsuits from early investors in the company, who have claimed that top executives paid themselves exorbitant bonuses and treated their investors poorly. MedMen executives have denied wrongdoing in both instances.
But even if all press is good press, it still doesn’t hurt to try and pile on a more positive image in the face of legal adversity. And with the new advertising campaign, that’s exactly what MedMen has done. The company has taken a vocal stance in the pursuit of social justice and total destigmatization of cannabis. Of course, getting two of the biggest names in Hollywood on board doesn’t hurt, either.
According to Forbes, the new MedMen ad will run before movie trailers in 300 movie theaters in states where the company operates, as well as potential spots on television networks E!, Bravo, and Oxygen. In addition to the Jonze-directed spot, the “A New Normal” campaign will also feature print ads in magazines like GQ, Rolling Stone, and Us Weekly.
"I've never been into pot much or a huge advocate for legalization, but I’ve always supported it because it seemed absurd for the reasons we all know. And it always felt inevitable," Spike Jonze told Forbes. "But getting to do this, I got to learn the bigger picture of the whole story. I feel so hopeful, but the thing that sticks with me and upsets me is that there are still so many people that are still locked up for this plant that is now legal in so many places. That doesn’t make sense.”
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