Realizing they were sitting on a green goldmine of marketing potential with their pot-themed sitcom Weeds, the Showtime publicity department has gone marijuana crazy in their advertising for the series' second season. While alert Defamer readers may have noticed the subtle "Putting the herb in suburb," ads dominating every inch of promotional space on our home page, Rolling Stone readers will be treated to a multi-sensory Weeds-pushing experience, thanks to a scent strip that manages to uncannily recreate the aroma of Paris Hilton departing a Range Rover. It's just one among many sinse-themed Weeds promos that have the feds calling foul:
The network is also passing out "Weeds"-themed brownies at major transportation hubs. A Munchie Mobile is distributing merchandise at Los Angeles and New York concerts and sporting events. Showtime Executive VP of Creative Marketing Len Fogge said the network went to several scent-manufacturing companies before finding the perfect herbal essence. "We experimented with several scents before we chose one—not that anyone here knows firsthand what it might smell like," he said. [...]
Tom Riley, director of public affairs for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, is not impressed. In addition to reciting statistics about marijuana use ("There are more teens in treatment for marijuana than for alcohol dependence—is that funny?"), Riley chided the Rolling Stone promotion as all too retro..."Maybe some baby boomers still find this kind of thing edgy, but young people don't."
Showtime may defend it all as harmless, odorific fun, but we can't help but wonder if this marketing campaign won't perhaps act as a "gateway" promotion to harder campaigns to come. The last thing audiences need to lure them to a new season of The L Word is a pungent, vagina-scented postcard tumbling out of the latest issue of In Style.
- The Bong Show [TVWeek.com] (Reg. req'd.)