According to the March 3 MarijuanaDoctors.com press release
about its “first-ever” marijuana ad on a major network, the one-minute spot
was already on TV in New Jersey.
“The commercial will be on the COMCAST system and the networks that will air the commercial include: A&E, AMC, FOX, CNBC, CNN, COMEDY CENTRAL BRAVO, DISCOVERY, ESPN, FX, FOOD NETWORK, HGTV, HISTORY, and several others,” the release stated.
It wasn’t, and by all indications it never will be, but that didn’t stop a plethora of news outlets from reporting that it was a done deal. Here’s CNN
’s rundown of some of the coverage:
Reporters for news organizations, including ABC News, Time magazine and The Chicago Tribune, all published stories as if the press release was fact. A CNN newscast included a mention of the alleged pot ads, too. Even "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams" covered the story, despite the fact that NBC is owned by Comcast, which explicitly denies that the ads ever ran on any of its cable systems.
Comcast’s role in the whole thing was a big part of the problem. The company rejected the ad, which depicts a man dealing sushi out of a coat the way a drug dealer might sell his wares, but a spokeswoman for Comcast Spotlight, an ad sales division within the company, confirmed the ads would be running. She told Advertising Age
the ads would hit the airwaves between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
A Comcast spokesman later told Ad Age
, “The ad has not appeared on Comcast systems, and reports and statements to the contrary are incorrect.”
Comcast Spotlight’s initial confirmation that the ad would run certainly exacerbated the confusion, but the news media’s intense desire to report a first would seem to be a major factor here, too. MarijuanaDoctors’ claim to be running the first-ever medical marijuana ad to air on a network proved to be a huge attention grabber, despite the ad's demonstrably not being the first
[RELATED: Find out how to craft the perfect pitch at our April PR & Media Relations event in NYC.]
So next time your organization has a real first on its hands, play it up.