If you’re a regular rider of the New York City subways, maybe you’ve seen the new ad campaign by Vireo Health of New York. If you have, then you’ve witnessed history. And that’s because Vireo Health is the first company ever to advertise for medical marijuana in the NYC subways.
The advertisements are simple and clear. Each poster features the friendly face of an average New Yorker. And below the portrait, the caption reads: “Ask Your Doctor About Medical Marijuana.”
The posters are on display in about 100 subway stations. The company behind the ad campaign, Vireo Health, is one of just five licensed medical cannabis companies in the state of New York. They’re also the first to advertise medical cannabis in the subways.
A Broad Appeal To All New Yorkers
In a press release issued on the launch of the ad campaign, Vireo explains that the posters were designed to appeal to all New Yorkers. Ari Hoffnung, the CEO of Vireo Health of New York, explained how the historical campaign was “designed to encourage New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds to speak to their doctors about medical marijuana.”
The posters themselves celebrate the diversity Hoffnung wanted to represent. There are four versions, and each features a person of a different age and ethnicity.
The company’s goal is to increase public awareness about medical cannabis among the millions of people who ride the subways every day. The ads’ simple, friendly approach is also aimed at challenging the long-standing stigmas around cannabis. In fact, the posters run alongside ads for more “traditional” healthcare products.
Could Advertising On the Subways Help Save New York’s Medical Marijuana Program
New York only legalized medical marijuana very recently. So far, however, the program is off to a slow start. For one, too few physicians are participating in the program. Furthermore, only a handful of conditions qualifies a patient for medical marijuana. On top of that, there are so few medical dispensaries, that would-be patients don’t know where to buy medical marijuana. Then there’s the kicker: the cost of medical marijuana is extremely high.
In short, there aren’t a lot of patients registering with the program. Vireo Health hopes their ad campaign can change that. They want to encourage people to open up with their doctor about medical marijuana. There’s a concern that many who could potentially benefit from marijuana, especially for chronic pain, are afraid to ask their physician about weed.
That’s why the ad campaign Vireo Health put up in the subways has a simple message. Simply, “ask your doctor…”. Still, Vireo has a certain customer in mind.
At its inception, New York’s medical marijuana program didn’t allow patients with chronic pain to enroll. However, one of this year’s revisions to that program added chronic pain as a qualifying condition. As a result, the number of registered patients got a slight boost, rising to 19,321 as of last month.
Vireo Health has timed their ad campaign to take advantage of this boost in interest. The ads read: “New Yorkers have new options for chronic pain.” Certainly, the use of medical marijuana for chronic pain is one of the most popular applications nationwide.
Advertising Medical Marijuana On Subways Is A Smart Move
One of the major benefits of advertising on the NYC subway is the sheer number of people who use it and rely on it every day. In the first place, you might be surprised to know that nearly 5.6 million New Yorkers ride the rails on weekdays. Furthermore, most have long commute times. That kind of exposure can have a dramatic effect on product awareness.
And advertisers know that, too. The costs of placing an ad campaign in the NYC subway is pretty steep. Most campaigns run about a month. If you want to put up 250 platform posters, it’ll cost you $45,000.
Given those costs, it’s safe to say that Vireo Health is serious about investing in its services and products. They’re putting a lot of money into a public awareness campaign they hope will encourage patients to explore marijuana as an alternative medicine.
And the subway advertisements are indeed the first of their kind. Advertisements for cannabis have graced New York City streets before. Sometimes, they’ve even been censored. In 2014, Times Square pulled a Weedmaps advertisement from its huge screens.
But Vireo’s posters are the first cannabis advertisements to appear in the subways themselves.