Cannabis Marketing — Not Just Blowing Smoke

By Kerri Accardi

Turn on the TV at home, listen to the radio in the car, or surf the internet anywhere and you will be feed a steady diet of drug ads. Some are so frequent that you can recite the side effects by heart. But where are the cannabis ads? Why aren’t legal cannabis companies running media campaigns? We all know Budweiser is the King of Beers, but who is the Potentate of Pot?

The main reason we do not see more cannabis commercials, even in states that have medical and adult use laws, is not legal prohibition as you might suspect. It is because most cannabis companies are unaware that they are legally able to bring their cannabis business to both broadcast and digital media channels.

420MEDIA is a full-service media agency that works exclusively with cannabis brands. It has established distribution relationships across mainstream TV, industry and consumer print publications, digital media platforms, OTT, and dispensary programming, providing the cannabis and hemp industry with integrated cross-platform solutions across both traditional and new media marketing channels, enabling mass reach and demographic and geographic targeting.

It hasn’t been easy. The push-back has come from the cannabis industry shying away or questioning the validity of mainstream advertising. Broadcast television and mainstream radio have been extremely cautious, often changing their minds about broadcasting an ad at the last minute.

https://youtu.be/BA1yGPpIEo8

The landscape is changing rapidly. Patients are changing public perception about cannabis with their compelling and honest stories of hope. In the world of ‘Fake News’ real voices do matter. And the story of a person using cannabis to manage a medical condition moves the discussion beyond stoner jokes.

Education is the key. Informed consumers and regulators will be able to see through the myths and the misinformation. Whether it’s about the way cannabis affects our bodies, the economy, brands, products or our rights — we all need to know!

The cannabis and hemp market are growing at a rapid pace — lack of knowledge will be the only thing that holds us back from flourishing as an industry and nation. Within five years, cannabis and hemp will become more normalized through media, people will be healthier and wealthier, and our economy strong.


Kerri Accardi is the visionary behind 420MEDIA offering a unique combination of full-service digital marketing services, media distribution, and industry expertise.

 

The Wink In Weed: Woodstock Nation Goes to Pot

By David Rheins

It’s early for a Saturday in Seattle, but I’m German and so I am the first to arrive. Entering the swanky lobby of the downtown boutique hotel, the vibe is New York City chic, appropriate enough for my introduction to New Yorker Michael Lang – the once and still cherubic face behind Woodstock.

Michael is making the rounds of the cannabis business community, looking for partners for Woodstock-branded weed, and a mutual friend has arranged for us to have coffee.  It is our first meeting, and I’m happy to speak with a generational icon.  What I notice first is his smile – still boyish despite 72 years as a celebrity rock promoter – followed quickly by his still impressive head of hair.  I am reminded of the famous photos, Lang on stage, or riding his BSA Victor motorcycle.

Michael on his BSA

While I’m too young to have partied in the mud at Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York, the album, the Warner Brothers concert film, and the iconic photographs of the event were deeply influential to me growing up, and I tell him so.  There is no brand that resonates more solidly with baby boomers than Woodstock.

Unlike the appeal of Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson and Tommy Chong – the Holy Trinity of stoner celebrity cannabis brands –Woodstock’s cache transcends mere pot celebrity. Not just an historical festival featuring all the hippie heavyweights, Woodstock was the first gathering of the rainbow nation. An “Aquarian Exposition,” a happening, and a coming-out party for America’s disenfranchised long hairs, who came together from all corners of the country to let their freak flags fly during 3 days of peace, music & pot smoke.

Woodstock branded weed is a no brainer – it is hard to imagine a brand with a more canna-friendly image, and initial consumer demand is likely to be high, particularly with the hoopla surrounding the planned 50th anniversary concert in 2019.

I was part of the 1994 Woodstock II celebration.  Spin magazine, where I served as associate publisher, was media sponsor, and we rented a large house next to the festival grounds.  We used our sponsorship as an occasion to demonstrate to our advertising partners the power of music and youth culture.  Woodstock was nostalgic even in 1994, and its mystique had less to do with the music of Jimi Hendrix and Country Joe than it did with the power of community. That experience transcends generations.  The masses of Generation X celebrants, covered in mud, crowd surfing and smoking pot to Metallica we felt the same spirit of tribal communion as the 1969 crowd did, and the photographs of both are almost indistinguishable.

woodstock1994

The Woodstock Nation is now in its 70s, and the quaint marijuana of the 1960s has grown up into a sophisticated consumer marketplace. Today’s cannabis comes in all shapes and sizes, flavors and forms.  Competing with a super market full of canna brands for shelf space and consumer mind share won’t be easy – even for an iconic brand.

Woodstock will likely feature old school strains, and Lang is leaning toward classic 60s strains like Panama Red and Acapulco Gold.  His task now is to find local farmers in each market whose product can live up to expectations for such a legendary brand. To succeed he must create consistent experience worthy of such a pedigreed name, a challenge made more difficult as each state will have its own growers, who’ll operate under unique rules and standards.

Uneven production can quickly diminish the value of an entire franchise.  Other licensees have seen that when you rely on third party producers, product quality and potency can be inconsistent from crop to crop, batch to batch, and certainly state to state.

Now more than ever, the key to success for cannabis producers and processors lies in brand differentiation, a topic I’ll be discussing at CannaCon on Friday, February 17th at 10am. We’ll be examining Marijuana Marketing, and how pot culture is quickly becoming pop culture.

The Wink in Weed: The Sock Puppet of Pot

By David Rheins

“We lose a little on every sale, but make it up in volume.” The famous failed business strategy harkens back to the heady dot.com days when star-struck venture capitalists backed wild-eyed technologists at crazy valuations, betting on low-revenue/no-revenue ventures to capture valuable “market share” in the emerging digital economy.

Back then the goal for tech startups was to ‘Go IPO’ – take their companies public through an initial stock offering. Fancy suits, slick decks in hand, young tech entrepreneurs made schmoozing the Angels and Venture Capitalists their priority. Real products and actual profits would come eventually; but building mind share was more important than market share, and so these dotcoms raised enormous amounts of capital, which they quickly invested on flashy Super Bowl ads, groovy offices and over-the-top industry parties.

Perhaps the best known example of this failed approach is Pets.com, an online pet store famous for its ubiquitous sock-puppet mascot.  Raising $300 million, the company spent lavishly on high profile marketing efforts in an effort to build excitement around its initial stock offering.  The stock debuted in February 2000 at $11 a share, peaked at $14, and then quickly sank to less than $1. The whole wild ride was over in less than one year. Three hundred employees lost their gigs, and as many millions evaporated when Pets.com folded in November 2000.

Amazon, Google, Facebook. For every internet success story, there were tens of thousands of failures, some spectacular in the enormity of their disaster.  Billions of dollars were created and evaporated in the mismanagement of once-huge brands like Netscape, MySpace, AltaVista, Excite and AOL. Just this week, Yahoo gave up the ghost and was sold to Verizon for less than $5B, a loss of more than $100 Billion in value from its once lofty portal peak.

In today’s Green Rush, thousands of companies are being created and hundreds of thousands of workers of weed have signed up for their piece of legal cannabis. This November, a handful of new fully-legal states are expected to come online, including the huge California and Nevada markets. Our $5.4 Billion legal market is expected to quadruple in the next 5 years.

So, are we in the process of creating another bubble? Is the high-flying Pot Boom on a path to suffer the same burst as its dotcom predecessor?  And if we are doomed to repeat our past failures, who will we point to as the Sock Puppet of Pot?

While there are sure to be some dramatic flops, some key differences between the two markets suggests that the Pets.com scenario is unlikely to be repeated in our budding marketplace. First, while the legal cannabis industry is the fastest growing segment of our economy, it is not for the most part being fueled by over-exuberant VCs.  While ArcView and a couple of other funds are playing a small role, for most cannabis entrepreneurs, capital remains expensive and hard to find. Federal Prohibition has made commercial credit from banks unavailable, and Venture Capital cautious, and as a result so-called Friends and Family and other Angels are funding this grass-roots revolution.

Second, there are no public markets to wildly inflate company valuations. Beyond the dubious OTC markets, Wall Street is not yet playing the weed game, and won’t until there is a change in federal scheduling or regulations.

Most importantly, the cannabis industry is creating real products and generating real revenues and profits.  While the world only needs one or two search engines, it can absorb hundreds of cannabis brands.  Consumer demand for legal cannabis in its many forms is strong, and getting stronger, driven by product innovation in new categories like Cannabis Health and Beauty Aids (CHABA), edibles and concentrates, not to mention the explosive growth predicted in medical cannabis and industrial hemp.

So don’t look for any Pot Puppet ads on the Super Bowl anytime soon. Pot is not pixels, and decades of prohibition have created enormous pent up demand. That is not to say that there will not be some spectacular losers. Competition is fierce, and getting more cut-throat, as wholesale and retail price per gram shrinks, and more well-funded entities enter the marketplace. Look for marketing budgets to significantly increase as the battle for brand awareness and loyalty take center stage in the next act of our grand experiment.

Hmm..Did You Know Shifts Perceptions With Rich Media Cannabis Portal

WASHINGTON: Marijuana marketing is coming of age now that legalization is growing both the need and the branding budgets of the cannabis industry’s first crop of pot products.

Cannabis media too is evolving – moving beyond the stereotypical High Times and Cheech & Chong 1970’s sensibility into the modern era of integrated digital marketing.   Meeting the growing need for reliable information — about the laws, the culture, the science and the new cannabis brands —  New York filmmaker Kerri Accardi and her 420MEDIA agency are rolling out a new platform called “Hmm did you know?”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQj0vNGrWXg&w=560&h=315]

In an exclusive interview with MJ News Network, Accardi explains that HDYK will be a visually-inspired rich media web destination designed to serve as a comprehensive source of information, education, and entertainment about cannabis and hemp.   “We are creating an online platform featuring professionally-produced series, commercials, digital media, and integrated marketing. HDYK is a place to see faces of the cannabis industry.”

Accardi came to the industry first as an activist, pursuing a passionate drive to raise the awareness of medical marijuana.  Through project work with several leading dispensaries and an assignment shooting last summer’s Seattle Hempfest,  she developed strong personal connections with pioneers and industry leaders, many of whom have agreed to participate in HDYK, including Hempfest’s Vivian McPeak, CCSE’s John Davis and MJBA’s David Rheins.

“The idea manifested when my Aunt Kathy was sick and I was trying to convince my family that cannabis was medicine,” the Staten Island native told MJNN. “There was no where for to me to show them other than scattered websites that were far and few between.  Grateful and beyond humbled I’m now aligned with pioneers and industry leaders to share education and information on a global level through visual entertainment and media.”

The multi-media platform will focus initial content offerings in five key channels: Healing, Science, Business, Hemp and Organic Growing, with an emphasis on programming that shifts public perceptions shaped by years of propaganda. “HDYK will shift consciousness and change the way people perceive our miracle plant, ” she said. “It will give the industry a place to share their products and information while providing the knowledge to those seeking.”

Advertising opportunities begin as low as $1000, and scale all the way up  $50K primary sponsorship packages.

For more information about getting involved with Hmm Did You Know? Email info@420MEDIA.us; or call (425) 420-0585