A marijuana legalization advertisement could be aired during the Super Bowl if The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, aka NORML, wins an online contest.
The group is currently leading in an online voting contest sponsored by Intuit, which has promised to award a free Super Bowl spot to one American small business.
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The ad NORML would debut at the Super Bowl XLVIII has already been posted online. In the video, an overweight, unshaven, middle-aged white guy throws back Doritos on a coach while wearing a Chicago Bears sweatshirt and watching the game and calls anti-marijuana people of being hypocrites.
Then, average Joe, a pot-loving spokesman, cites a myriad of claims from the pro marijuana legalization website DrugWarFacts.org to show that pot is less harmful and more beneficial than many legal substances we consume on a daily basis.
Sponsoring the contest is Intuit, the financial and tax preparation software company responsible for programs like QuickBooks, which had a $4 million, 30-second spot during the Super Bowl.
Rather than run their own ad during the highly sought after timeslot, Intuit chose promote another business to increase visibility among potential clients.
However, their unique marketing move could backfire if a controversial ad airs, potentially turning off viewers and creating a negative association with the brand, branding expert Peter Madden warns.
"Intuit leadership is surely wringing their collective hands over the matter," Madden told CNBC
. "Though marijuana isn’t as taboo a subject since its legal approval in varying states, it is the equivalent to a scarlet letter — albeit one tainted green — that their brand is now forced to wear."
"Such is the danger to brands who go the contest route," Madden added.
Intuit claims to "have no stance on medical marijuana as a company," however, in 2011, the software giant stopped working with an Oregon medical clinic after it learned that the facility supported the use of medical marijuana. At the time, Intuit called the it an "unacceptable business practice," WebProNews.com reported
If NORML wins the Intuit Super Bowl competition, it is unclear whether the NFL would even permit the ad, considering marijuana is still illegal on the federal level.
According to Web Pro News, if the ad does run, it will not be the first of its kind to be aired during a major U.S. sporting event. During a NASCAR event in June, a pro-marijuana ad ran courtesy of the Marijuana Policy Project.
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, according to the government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In 2011, 18.1 million people illegally used the drug in the U.S.
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