‘Nascent And Nebulous’: The State Of CBD Advertising

Advertising policies across platforms, are changing constantly

When Hath, a newly launched CBD brand, had an ad approved to run on Facebook and Instagram earlier this month, the video didn’t show any of the company’s products, and purposefully used “neutral language,” according to Kelley Ireland-Kelly, co-founder and CMO of Hath. The copy on the ad: “Discover the next generation of wellness and start feeling better today.”

“You really have to avoid language that would send red flags to the FDA,” said Kelly. “The challenge is that it doesn’t really provide a lot of information for the customer or solve a lot of their questions because our ads that are approved have to stay pretty vague.”

CBD may be a booming business — in recent years, brands have added CBD to everything from makeup to petcare; by 2024, BDS Analytics estimates that CBD sales will be more than $20 billion in the U.S. — but advertising CBD products isn’t easy.

While many brands may sell their products direct-to-consumer, they can’t apply the strategy of a typical DTC brand — lots of digital ads, generally on Facebook and Instagram — to stand out. For one, typically CBD brands have to work with lawyers to make sure each piece of creative is compliant with state and federal regulations as well as platform policies. That’s why some brands are using influencer marketing, print, out-of-home, audio, television, even postcards, to reach consumers. Many are also doing most this themselves — they often have to keep an eye on changing policies and change up creative quickly — which means shoring up internal resources.

Federal and state laws, as well as advertising policies across platforms, are changing constantly, making it difficult for CBD brands to figure out how to market. Those regulations and policies impact not only where CBD brands can advertise but what the creative should look like, claims the brands can make and what the brands can pitch to consumers. 

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