This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and appears here with permission.
A recent article we published titled “The Ethical Buying Standard for Cannabis Consumers” sparked a lot of comments and interesting discussions about what ethical cannabis consumers should be looking for in 2022. The obvious factors are that consumers choose brands based on ethical and environmental concerns. such as packaging, processing, carbon footprint, energy consumption, growing techniques like hydroponics, etc. One comment asked if consumers should support brands that use cannabis influencers who strip down to their underwear, or less, to sell their products.
Interesting, the ethics of buying or supporting a brand that supports cannabis influencers in their underwear. Let’s backtrack a bit before looking at this social media phenomenon.
Cannabis.net has published several articles explaining why exploiting women and their bodies in order to get more “hearts” or “likes” on a post is wrong and outdated. Our core line has always been, “Be a big marijuana influencer on your own, why do you have to get naked?”. The article, “Why boobs and bongs need to be phased out of the cannabis industry” received many upvotes from the cannabis industry due to all the hard work pioneers are doing in the cannabis space. , like battling the “good ol’ boys” network, and shattering glass ceilings, ganja girls in underwear selling bongs takes the women’s cannabis movement back to the outdated thinking of marketing in the 1970s.
If it doesn’t work, why are brands and young women doing it? Does sex sell in the marijuana industry? The sexual exploitation advertisements of the 1970s and 80s were an attempt by car manufacturers, beer companies and Big Tabacco to appeal to the male consumer between the ages of 18 and 35. Do men between the ages of 18 and 35 who buy cannabis like the fact that women strip down to their underwear and promote ancillary products as well as cannabis brands? Dan Bilzerian’s cannabis brand Ignite built a social media dynasty in the early years of cannabis promoting its brand with dozens of beautiful women in bikinis or underwear. Its marketing, while capturing the attention of the male viewer, did not translate into commercial success as Ignite ended up losing so much money that Bilzerian pulled it out of the marijuana market.
Defend boobs and bangs
When given the chance to speak to cannabis influencers who do this type of work, the general response revolves around positive body image, I can do whatever I want, I work hard to look that way, and I am allowed to make money using my body, social media has created this opportunity for a side hustle, don’t follow if you don’t like, to each their own taste, etc.
While comments on this type of post tend to follow an age demographic for sure, it’s not 100% on topic. Generally, if you are over 35, you find the semi-naked marketing ploy to be tasteless, cheap, and shoddy. If you’re under 35, you tend to be more open to the idea and sympathize with influencers. Not a shocking revelation based on Gen Z, X, and Millennials. It all depends on how you grew up, what was or wasn’t considered acceptable, and what social media platforms dominated during your teenage years. Remember, Snap was originally created to send sexts, to send a private photo that disappeared moments after being viewed.
When it comes to ethical cannabis consumers who want to support brands that respect the environment, do the right thing through inclusive hiring practices, do the right thing with fair compensation levels, and do the right thing through unscrupulous marketing. abusive, do ganja girls in underwear qualify on an ethical scale? The answer, as a consumer deciding which brands to support, is yes. The consumer is free to come up with all sorts of reasons to support brands, whether it’s being eco-friendly or supporting your city’s little league program. The consumer can make their own lists of important factors when making a buying decision, maybe the environment and carbon footprint is one, maybe the other is how they choose to market its brand and the type of advertisements it uses publicly.
Are dissatisfied women selling cannabis products and ancillary brands good for the cannabis industry? No. As the cannabis industry fights for federal legalization and mainstream acceptance, influencer marketing of boobs and bongs will have to go the same way it’s no longer a staple of ads for cars, tobacco commercials, motorcycle commercials, beer commercials and other industries that have become billion dollar mainstays in America. The bikini wearing of cannabis smokers diminishes the power of the cannabis plant by belittling the message of healing medicine and hindering the progress of women working in the cannabis industry who keep their clothes on as part of their work in the cannabis industry. This type of advertising undermines legalization because it presents the plant in a “sexy, soft-porn” environment that isn’t ideal for swing voters in conservative states and Central America. It also demeans women in general and plays on misogynistic and archaic advertising models.
Remember that history may not repeat itself, but it will rhyme. Brands that use scantily clad women to promote their products will eventually face an ethical backlash from consumers. Ignite brands have pumped millions into the “sexy bikini fanciful cannabis lifestyle” and got burned. While Ignite is a harbinger for other cannabis brands, be very careful and clear in your influencer marketing that there should be no underwear or topless photos in order to promote a brand of cannabis.
One workaround that some influencers are trying is to have a sexy, but dressy promotion of different cannabis products, and if people want to see more, they’ve created Only Fan pages, which don’t include the brand of cannabis and require payment to access it. The lines between what influences and what peddles begin to blur in these new configurations. If your influencer is a soft-core star who promotes cannabis on the side, or is she a cannabis influencer who also has an adult site, a side set up?
Ultimately, taking your clothes off to get a higher social media engagement rate is just a cheap, low-rent way to promote any product. Big cars, tobacco and alcohol have come to send the message to consumers that the exploitation of the female body is not acceptable. Brands in the cannabis industry, which have many female consumers and women in cannabis company suites, will also learn this lesson.