Examining the CBD Advertising Arena: Is It Purposely Vague to Avoid Sending Red Flags to the FDA?
The CBD industry is growing rapidly and with laws and regulations in a constant state of flux, it is hard for the companies to keep up. In terms of advertising CBD, it is purposely vague as to avoid sending red flags to the FDA. Companies like Hath, use words such as “wellness” and “feeling better” versus any specific medical claims. The expected sales of the CBD industry in the US is expected to be more than $20 billion by 2024, but marketing CBD products is difficult to navigate. As products are mostly sold directly to the consumer, typical marketing strategies would use the online advertising and social media campaigns. However, CBD companies have to work closely with lawyers to ensure that they aren’t going against any state or federal regulations.
Advertising has become very costly and companies are resorting back to traditional print, audio, television, and even postcard ads. Because laws surrounding cannabis are changing constantly, so are the advertising policies surrounding them. The regulations dictate where CBD can be advertised but also what ads should and shouldn’t look like. There are also strict rules regarding the claims that companies can make and what can actually be shared with consumers. One of the biggest difficulties is that regulations differ so much from state to state. It is easier, however, to advertise products that contain no THC, but even these ads have to be weary of the age of the audience as well as making any health or therapeutic claims.
Platforms that do not allow CBD advertising include; Pinterest, Reddit, Twitter, Google, and Amazon. Facebook recently changed its policy, but only for topical hemp brands. The CBD industry is inundated with information and a lot of it is inaccurate. This makes it exceptionally difficult for the consumer to determine what products are good and also safe. To resolve this advertising problem, companies look to influencers and audio advertising to try to educate their consumers. It is very much a word of mouth industry and so testimonials and reviews from trusted sources are crucial. Longer radio ads, for example, allow companies to talk about the quality of their products as well as any third-party testing that has been done.
Companies still need to be careful about what they say, but have found a loophole through influencers. If it the message is coming from someone other than the company, they have a lot more freedom to say certain things. It has also allowed them to get back onto social media platforms. Along with postcards, billboards, and one company driving an RV around the country to spread the news, CBD companies are doing what they can to get their message out. Companies are also keeping lawyers and creative teams nearby to approve their messages, but also to change them last minute if need be. Ads needs to be very direct and cautious of the words they use and the images they display.
In an already crowded market, companies work night and day to ensure that their products don’t fall into the category of wellness fads or fly by night gimmicks. Strict advertising laws make this exceptionally complicated as companies are being advised not to mention the ingredients of their products in their ads. Many companies are therefore relying on values such as education, entertainment, self-care, or social justice to help reach the consumer. They are then able to share their mission through partnerships, experiences, and retail. Regardless of the difficulties, consumer interest is still building and the power of that cannot be underestimated. Currently, CBD is one of the most searched terms on the internet. This is perhaps what is pushing regulations to be changed and so frequently. We are certainly only at the beginning of the CBD revolution.