MedMen’s The New Normal Taps Acclaimed Filmmaker Spike Jonze and Actor/Activist Jesse Williams to Normalize Cannabis
CALIFORNIA: MedMen Enterprises rewrote history yesterday with the debut of a disruptive new commercial that chronicles the American history of cannabis. Supported by the most expansive integrated marketing campaign the company has executed to date, The New Normal is directed by Academy Award-winning storyteller Spike Jonze and features actor Jesse Williams, best known for his longstanding activism and starring role in Grey’s Anatomy. The ad furthers MedMen’s vision where legalized and regulated cannabis creates a safer, healthier and happier world. Founded in 2010, MedMen is known for its disruptive advertising campaigns, innovative approach to cannabis retail and progressive legalization efforts.
The diverse creative team behind the project includes actor Jesse Williams, director Spike Jonze, Academy-Award nominated cinematographer Bradford Young and production designer James Chinlund, who is currently working on the upcoming Lion King movie.
MedMen launched a 360-degree approach to The New Normal campaign, which includes spots on connected TV networks (including Bravo, CBS Sports Network, Oxygen, MSNBC, Lifetime and Food Network), 80+ out of home assets, print ads (including national ad placements in Rolling Stone and US Weekly), Sirius XM, native integrations with Complex, podcasts and terrestrial radio, digital, pre-roll and programmatic ads. MedMen will also be advertising for the first time in hundreds of movie theaters across California, Nevada, and Michigan.
The commercial chronicles society’s evolving perceptions of the plant, from pre-prohibition to the modern industry of today. While looking back through America’s history, from George Washington’s hemp farm, to Reefer Madness propaganda, The New Normal takes the audience on a journey through the injustices of the past and a hopeful view for the future. Jonze and Williams collaborated to ensure that much of the commercial’s cast and crew had a personal real-life connection to the plant. Those individuals included military veterans who use cannabis to treat their PTSD, a former NFL football player who uses it as a substitute for opioids, victims of racial profiling and those who work in the emerging industry.
Jesse Williams, who also co-wrote the film with Jonze, will appear on the cover of EMBER volume 4, MedMen’s in-house magazine. The magazine will be free with purchase at every MedMen store beginning February 25, 2019. It will also be distributed at Barnes & Noble bookstores nationwide and select boutiques, hotels and restaurants.
In addition to the commercial, Spike Jonze is creating a short documentary with filmmaker Molly Schiot that was shot on set and explores the themes of the short film in more detail. It was important to all involved to tell the stories of cast members who all have their own relationships with cannabis, including: veterans who have found cannabis as a way to treat themselves, former law enforcement, formerly incarcerated drug offenders and young entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
All of this content as well as a brief history of cannabis and more is available on www.medmen.com.
Jesse Williams commented, “The highly selective criminalization of one plant, with flagrantly harsher punishments for one community, must be acknowledged and left behind for something more reasonable, realistic and fair. It’s pretty clear that Americans are ready to exist beyond a few inherited hypocrisies. We deserve the opportunity to make this right. We can do, and feel, better.”
“When I read the premise about telling the story of the history of cannabis and our country, there was something that moved me about it. I apologize for using such a 2010’s word, but it felt healing to me. I didn’t know much about the specifics of the history, but as I learned about it, I felt like it was a story of a very dysfunctional couple. The relationship started in such a healthy place, with even our Founding Fathers having hemp farms, but it got so tragically messed up in the 80 years of prohibition that we couldn’t see straight. It was shocking to just sit in all the stories of so many people and so many lives that were unfairly hurt by the prohibition and the fear that was stoked by it, especially people of color. And it wasn’t just their lives, it was their families, too. And now we are starting to come out of it. We are at that point in a relationship where a couple is calming down after a fight and realizing how irrational they were and trying to make amends. I’ve never been into pot much or a huge advocate for legalization, but I’ve always supported it because it seemed absurd for the reasons we all know. And it always felt inevitable. But getting to do this, I got to learn the bigger picture of the whole story. I feel so hopeful, but the thing that sticks with me and upsets me is that there are still so many people that are still locked up for this plant that is now legal in so many places. That doesn’t make sense,” Spike Jonze stated.
“Cannabis is part of our country’s history. We’ve moved away from the propaganda of the past and into a world where cannabis is the new normal. We want this commercial to educate and embolden in equal measures. This is our opportunity to make a statement on a national stage,” said Adam Bierman, MedMen’s CEO & Co-Founder.