Censorship of a pro-marijuana legalization group's ads could be helping attract attention to its cause. Reddit's marijuana related content category displays links to "Yes on 19" t-shirts in favor of pot legalization in California. But the site's publisher, Conde Nast blocked ads from Just Say Now, another pro-Proposition 19 campaign. Facebook also censored the organization's ads.
"After our ads with the Just Say Now logo of [a] marijuana leaf ran more than 38 million times, Facebook flip-flopped and banned all images of marijuana from its ads," stated Just Say Now on a petition page on the Firedoglake site. Just Say Now is a project of Firedoglake and Students for Sensible Drug Policy aimed at passing marijuana legalization measures in California, Arizona, Oregon, and South Dakota.
The organization, launched earlier this month, turned the Facebook ad situation into a "Facebook Censors Marijuana" rallying cry, using a slashed-out pot leaf as its logo on the Just Say Now Facebook page, which has around 10,000 likes. Facebook's guidelines fully prohibit ads for some legal products including tobacco, weapons, and adult toys and videos.
More recently, representatives of the Just Say Now campaign complained that social news site Reddit would not accept its ads. "After seeing the significant attention marijuana issues, and Proposition 19, received on the site, it seemed a natural place to try to advertise for supporters," wrote Firedoglake's Michael Whitney in an August 27 post.
According to Reddit, it is its parent company, Conde Nast, that has a problem with the ads. "As a corporation, Conde Nast does not want to benefit financially from this particular issue," the company said, according to a post from Reddit execs on its site.
So, Reddit took matters into its own hands, and is now running the Just Say Now ads free of charge. "Since we're not allowed to benefit financially, reddit is now running the ads for free," the company wrote. The August 27 post also noted, "reddit itself strongly disagrees with [the Conde Nast decision], and frankly thinks it's ridiculous that we're turning away advertising money.
In addition to those free display ads, Just Say Now said it "will run text advertisements on Reddit in support of marijuana legalization regardless of Conde Nast's censorship. We'll also work with the Reddit community to support Prop 19 in 2010, and to pass marijuana legalization across the country in 2012 and beyond." California's Proposition 19 is on the November ballot and would legalize possession and cultivation of marijuana if passed.
It's not the first time a controversial ad campaign has been blocked or censored by media outlets. Indeed, campaigns sometimes can garner additional recognition as a result of a ban through media coverage of the situation.
Firedoglake is running Google AdWords ads linking to a Just Say Now petition asking President Obama to "end the war on marijuana." Proposition 19-related Google searches turn up ads promoting the petition and linking to Firedoglake. "Want to help legalize marijuana? Find out how to help," states one ad.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
March 19, 2014