Phelps Ads Prove a Cultural Tolerance of Marijuana
function share_this(num) {
 tit=encodeURIComponent('Phelps Ads Prove a Cultural Tolerance of Marijuana');
 site = new Array(5);
 return false;

Phelps Ads Prove a Cultural Tolerance of Marijuana
Posted by CN Staff on July 07, 2009 at 05:11:48 PT
By Dan Neil
Source: Los Angeles Times
USA -- Super-swimmer Michael Phelps returned to big-time advertising Sunday with a TV spot for Subway titled "Be Yourself." Oh, the irony.Surely Phelps -- 14-time Olympic gold medalist and endorsement juggernaut -- was being only himself, only human, when he was photographed in November hitting a bong at a party at the University of South Carolina.
That photograph, first published by the British tabloid News of the World in January, resulted in a three-month competition ban and cost Phelps a reported $500,000 deal with Kellogg.The swimmer promptly issued a sniveling apology, copping to "regrettable," "inappropriate" and "youthful" behavior (doesn't the latter want to excuse the former?). Phelps, 24, has more or less cheerfully dined on PR ashes ever since, in interviews with Matt Lauer, among others.Interestingly, the apology from the world's fittest stoner infuriated proponents of legal weed, who saw the episode as a missed opportunity to advance the cause. After all, if Aqua-Man smokes bud, how bad can it be?This is the greatest Olympian of all time, a man chandeliered with gold medals on the cover of Sports Illustrated. His achievements mock the moral hysteria that traditionally rains down on marijuana.The Subway ad itself is nothing special. It's a compare-and-contrast between Phelps' glamorous life as a sports superstar and that of Jared Fogle, Subway's former-fatty mascot. Jared prefers the low-fat sweet-onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich, while metabolic dynamo Phelps dares to eat the foot-long Meatball Marinara with Jalapeņo, containing 1,060 calories and more than 3,000 milligrams of sodium.Eating these will not make you an Olympic swimmer. A floating island, maybe.Culture deconstructionists will pick the spot apart for oblique references to the scandal. Phelps' chin whiskers are kind of bro-ish, for instance. He does look a trifle baked (could be the chlorine). AdWeek's Eleftheria Parpis wrote that "you can almost hear all the blunts lighting up in support as Sly & The Family Stone's 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)' kicks in."And it really is too bad that the sandwich franchise's website is: so, the Phelps-bong scandal seems to have been safely put to bed, and now that it has, it's worth asking, what have we learned? The consequences to Phelps -- actually, the lack of consequences -- suggest that something bigger than mere endorsement dollars is in play. It seems Phelps has moved the weed needle.Yes, USA Swimming, the sport's national governing body, suspended Phelps for three months, time he used to whip himself into shape after his post-Olympic bacchanal. (The organization also withheld its monthly stipend, an amount that probably wouldn't put gas in Phelps' Bentley.)Yes, Kellogg declined to re-up with Phelps, but tellingly, other endorsement deals remained intact: Speedo, Omega, Subway and Mazda China. Subway didn't hesitate to stand by its man (though it did postpone the current ad campaign six months to let the agita die down). Mazda required Phelps to record a minute-long mea culpa directed at the people of China -- mortifying but harmless. In June, Phelps inked a deal with H2O Audio, maker of high-end waterproof headphones.In other words, there were no serious consequences. To the extent that endorsement opportunities are a rough metric of how well someone in public life is liked, admired, respected, the bong-heard-round-the-world scandal might as well never have happened. With the benefit of hindsight, Kellogg execs might well be kicking themselves.You could ascribe the missing fallout to Phelps' incredible personal magnetism or -- far more likely -- to the fact that advertisers saw little downside to being associated with bong-meister Phelps.Nor should they. Across the board, marijuana is being steadily decriminalized and de-stigmatized. In a Field Poll in May, 56% of Californians favored legalization, slightly ahead of the roughly half of Americans who favor such a move. Thirteen states have legalized medical marijuana, and three more are considering it. In a dozen states, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is not illegal. One hundred million Americans have smoked pot, and about 14 million use it regularly, according to federal government studies. U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder has said the federal government would no longer raid California medical marijuana dispensaries.Ethan Nadelmann, of the legalization-advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance, told the Associated Press last month: "This is the first time I feel like the wind is at my back and not in my face."I'm sure, given the choice, Phelps would prefer not to be a milestone on the road to the marijuana's mainstreaming. Still, what we're witnessing is the death of a certain kind of shame.Advertising -- and that's what celebrity-athlete endorsements are -- is a highly sensitive antenna of culture. Because it strives to reach, hold and please the greatest number of people, it represents a special threshold of cultural acceptance, the floorboards of the norm. The return of brand Phelps says more about us than it does about him.Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:  Dan NeilPublished: July 7, 2009Copyright: 2009 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #16 posted by FoM on July 15, 2009 at 04:23:45 PT
Move To Legalize Marijuana Takes Root
July 15, 2009URL:,0,5266029.story
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #15 posted by Hope on July 07, 2009 at 11:28:47 PT
You can be yourself, too! No problemo.Except that I'd rather see your "snarky" or most usually, funny, comment, than imagine it.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #14 posted by BGreen on July 07, 2009 at 11:26:41 PT
You gotta know who butters your bread
I did my own study of the financial impact of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam on the surrounding businesses and my hypothesis was confirmed.I talked to the owner of a little snack bar (yummy, yummy food!) directly across from Coffeeshop De Kuil (also known as 4:20 due to a sign on their door,) and I directly asked what kind of impact De Kuil had on his business.You can imagine what he said. It is as much of a symbiotic business relationship as one can imagine.This snack bar owner said that even a ruling requiring coffeeshops to close at 1:30 hurt his business. Any kind of crackdown on coffeeshops or this assinine attempt to limit coffeeshops to only locals is going to devastate the economy of the Netherlands.I draw this comparison with the current topic because it demonstrates how Subway "gets it" and Kellogg's totally blew it.Subway owes a lot to the cannabis partakers in this Country and they know it (and apparently relish the fact.) LOLThe Reverend Bud Green
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #13 posted by Hope on July 07, 2009 at 11:08:31 PT
"Thank you for letting me be myself"
How completely cool is that?I love it.I get goose bumps every time I watch it.Joy!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #12 posted by BGreen on July 07, 2009 at 11:08:06 PT
I took it exactly as you meant it, runruff
I don't know what you think we might have thought you meant.Next time just go ahead and write your snarky comment and we'll know exactly what you mean to say. LOLMan, how complex can a non-comment actually end up being? ROTFLMAOThe Reverend Bud Green
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by Hope on July 07, 2009 at 10:59:50 PT
Go, Michael, Go!
I love it! Grinning from ear to ear!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #10 posted by runruff on July 07, 2009 at 10:54:04 PT
It is kind of funny? 
I have a certain mental image in mind when I write a comment here. The funny thing is how many ways a thing you say can be taken?Comment #7- I read that many different ways. What I meant was that you all know me so well by now that you could almost speak for me on a post like this. I usually say something snarky or sarcastic so by now you can fill in the blanks without me saying anything direct. That is what I meant.Don't you wish you had that last 30 seconds back?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on July 07, 2009 at 10:00:06 PT
just watched the ad
pretty funny, they should have the office guy doing shots of liquor at a bar while Michael hits a bong.....again when I think of Phelps I think of all the years of training he's put in. Very few people have that kind of self-discipline, that's why he's the best. Swimming is all about training, oxygen deprivation and pain! I remember in college the swim team guys would lift weights for an hour and half, swim for 2 hours, then come back in the afternoon to swim another 3 hours, and this wasn't even a top college program.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #8 posted by BGreen on July 07, 2009 at 09:53:49 PT
K ... E ... double L ... NO ...FREAKIN ...WAY!
I wrote them immediately after they dropped Phelps, chastising them for contributing to the epidemic of childhood illnesses with their sugary imitation food products and lambasted them for their hypocrisy in punishing an Olympic champion for consuming a substance that, contrary to the poisons produced by Kellogg's, has NEVER led to the death of a single human in history like the epidemics of obesity and diabetes have been directly led by much of the junk food produced by Kellogg's.I also told them I would NEVER purchase another of their products and I DAMN WELL MEANT IT!NEVER, EVER!The Reverend Bud Green
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by runruff on July 07, 2009 at 09:34:36 PT
Ya'll know me too well by now!
Insert snarky comment here,______________!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by HempWorld on July 07, 2009 at 08:48:51 PT
LOL "It seems Phelps has moved the weed needle&quo
Thanks Michael, do it again if you can!
Legalize All Drugs!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by FoM on July 07, 2009 at 08:47:15 PT
I really like the ad. It said a lot to me.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #4 posted by Sam Adams on July 07, 2009 at 08:37:32 PT
just so you know, the recommend daily allowance of salt is 1500 milligrams, so one large meatball sub has twice the amount of salt you're supposed to get in an entire day!hitting the bong and making your own sandwich is a lot healthier!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by tintala on July 07, 2009 at 08:16:56 PT:
I wont ever buy KELLOGS AGAIN>
NEVER!The stigma has to be one of the most hypocritical in the whole world. 
At every corner, every airport and restaraunt there are designated rooms for people to get hammered with alcohol and smoke cigarettes, the world has catered to cigarette smokers and alcohol drinkers, FOR WHAT?oh , it must be the taxes the government makes and the lobbyist will stop at nothing, even DEATH to say their products are harmless.WHy is it 20 years ago you were allowed to smoke cigarettes on the plane, you even had an ashtray in your armrest. LOL. Oh but wait, you can have a drink with that too.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #2 posted by ezrydn on July 07, 2009 at 07:12:08 PT:
You mean there are people here who are still buying from these people? From day one, not one Kellogg article has entered my home or passed my wallet. And it'll remain that way, for good. If you want someone to take a stand, start with yourself. Boycott ALL Kellogg products! Forever! See how THEY like it! I've taken my stand? You?
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by RevRayGreen on July 07, 2009 at 05:54:03 PT
who is not down
with Sly and the Family Stone..........? check the Far Eastern eyes on Phelps.....
Be Yourself creative spot with Michael Phelps for SUBWAY
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment