Historic First: Cannabis Education Campaign Kicks Off During NFL Super Bowl LIII

Twelve 30-Second Spots Debut During Super Bowl Broadcast on CBS Affiliate in USVI

NEW YORK: A women-owned digital marketing agency made history this weekend by managing to air its cannabis education ads during the much-coveted Super Bowl LIII broadcast. Featuring the Rastafarian Senator who led the fight for legal cannabis in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the spot is the first in a series for the cannabis online TV network Hmm Did You Know (HDYKshowcasing prominent voices from the cannabis industry and community.

A total of twelve :30 commercial spots aired during Super Bowl LIII programming on the USVI CBS affiliate, marking the first broadcast of a cannabis-centric public service announcement during NFL programming. The historic campaign is a product of 420MEDIA, a Seattle, NYC and Nevada-based digital marketing and media agency serving the legal cannabis industry.

In January, 2019, U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. approved a new medical marijuana law making the territory the latest Caribbean jurisdiction to open its doors to cannabis businesses and potential new tourism opportunities. The move has been years in the making, with voters having favored medical cannabis in a 2014 referendum. In addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands, other U.S. territories that have approved MMJ include Guam and Puerto Rico.

It is only fitting then, that the spots that aired during this Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast feature former Senator Positive T.A. Nelson, the seven-term Senator from the island and now the commissioner nominee to the Dept of Agriculture, who was among the most prominent voices leading the fight for marijuana law reform.

“The rationale behind medicinal cannabis is real, the science is real, the economics behind it is real, the health behind it is real,  and the opportunities behind are very real” says the former Senator in the spot promoting Hmm Did You Know Online Cannabis TV Network.

“I am extremely excited and honored to be working with 420MEDIA, on the frontlines in the battle for legalization,” Senator Nelson said. “We must keep up the fight until the old wall of prohibition is completely broken down! Our collective efforts continue to change the mindset of individuals who have been bombarded with propaganda for over 80 years. Education is the key to removing stigma.”

“For years, there has been pushback on the national level, but local media markets with legal cannabis are slowly changing,” said 420MEDIA CEO Kerri Accardi.  “We are extremely grateful to the USVI for taking the first step to educate the mainstream audience about the benefits of cannabis. This is the first of many slated for the cannabis education and awareness campaign with other renowned cannabis experts in the sports, medical and entertainment field sharing their wealth of information about benefits of medical cannabis. We look forward to breaking through new markets, and reaching audiences in legal cannabis states,” she added.

The public service announcement was co-sponsored by 420MEDIA along with several cannabis-based organizations and businesses including:

Humboldt Grace, a woman-owned cannabis strategic consulting company. Founder Lelehnia Du Bois offers her 45 years of experience to educate on the cannabis culture, work with individual, businesses, and organizations to develop successful strategies, and advocate for a healthy and sustainable industry.

The Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), a leading cannabis business organization and publisher the MJNews Network and Marijuana Channel One.

Nature Nurse Products, utilizing the power of nature and knowledge of medicine to create products that support the biological Endocannabinoid system. Nature Nurse is a beautifully blended and synergistic combination of ancient plant wisdom which has been expanded upon through science to create high-quality, easy to use products to incorporate into everyday life supporting health and well-being.
Curved Papers, a new twist on Rolling Papers, Curved Papers was founded by Michael O’Malley, an MIT-educated entrepreneur whose innovative patented curved design makes joints Easy to Roll.

Vital CBD:  Age Vital pharmacy, research and wellness is your local community and compounding family pharmacy Sarasota. By working in the medical field closely with physicians and patients for several years, their primary commitment is to serve people who suffer from chronic conditions such as pain, inflammatory conditions, and stress.

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.

 

Leafbuyer Partners With DOPE Media

COLORADO: Leafbuyer Technologies, a leading cannabis technology platform, has announced a new partnership with DOPE Media. The new partnership will significantly expand the reach of Leafbuyer’s deals platform to millions of new cannabis users across North America.

Leafbuyer, a leading cannabis deals network, drives business to dispensaries and product clients through its online platform and network of sites. The announced partnership is expected to capitalize on DOPE Media’s website traffic and industry reputation.

Kurt Rossner, CEO of Leafbuyer, says the primary purpose of this partnership is to expand Leafbuyer’s reach and better serve their clients and consumers. “We are always seeking valuable partnerships with consumer-facing content producers, so forming a long-term relationship with DOPEMagazine.com was a perfect fit. We believe this deal complements our existing array of partnerships with websites like Grasscity.com and Voice Media Group. The broader the reach of the Leafbuyer Network, the more value we will be able to drive our customers. DOPE has a great presence on the West Coast and that is where our highest growth markets are right now,” Rossner added.

A new featured online widget will appear on each page of DOPEMagazine.com The online tool will allow consumers to find Leafbuyer deals on their favorite cannabis-related products, without ever leaving DOPE’s website. Consumers will benefit from the sophisticated tool that aggregates cannabis deals into an easy to use online application.

 

Diego Pellicer Announces New Premium Marijuana Branding And Retail Prototypes

WASHINGTON:  Diego Pellicer Worldwide, Inc. has announced a partnership with architect Michael Rotondi, FAIA, and creative Jill Savini to develop retail prototypes and innovative branding for future store locations.

“We’re staying ahead of the curve by developing industry changing scalable and inviting retail environments that will be built to enhance the customer experience, along with a brand that reflects the premium cannabis products sold by our licensed and branded retail tenants,” said Ron Throgmartin, chief executive officer, Diego Pellicer Worldwide, Inc. “By working with Rotondi and Savini, we’re bringing in retail design and branding experts that will set the bar for premium retail cannabis stores. Rotondi and Savini’s experience and progressive thinking will chart the course for Diego Pellicer to accomplish our goals in this relatively new marketplace.”

According to a company press release, Rotondi and Savini plan to create a cutting-edge branding and architecture system that is adaptable to each market, each footprint and reflects the community in which it operates.

“What fascinates me the most about working with Diego is that while the industry continues to be defined, it’s possible that our work will set a new standard that others will want to emulate,” said Rotondi. “The store concepts that we’re developing will not only make each location look consistent and yet unique, but can be built quickly using current technology and materials.

Tommy Chong To Launch Innovative Content On Cannabis Club TV

CALIFORNIA: Cannabis Club TV, which bills itself as the first Direct Out Of Home (DOOH) and Over the Top TV (OTTtv) portable broadcast network devoted to the cannabis industry — at retail, in your pocket and at home — has announced it has signed Tommy Chong to host a travel show, one of  twenty new channels with a variety of different shows from sports to cooking, that the network plans.

Chong’s show will follow a format reminiscent of popular outlaw chef Anthony Bourdain, and will showcase the best cannabis flower and concentrates from the world’s top growers — from Humbolt to Amsterdam to Nepal to Kentucky.

“I’m excited to announce that I’m developing a cannabis travel show, where I explore all the unique cannabis cultures this planet has to offer. I love to have a Cannabis Club TV channel playing while I’m carving and testing my handmade water pipes,” says Tommy Chong, cannabis pioneer.

Cannabis Club TV has retained Damanant to be their official agency of record.

MANTIS Makes List Of Top 100 Largest Digital Networks In The US

CALIFORNIA: Cannabis-friendly marketing platform MANTIS Ad Network announced that it is now one of the top 100 largest digital networks in the US, per Quantcast.

According to company sources, MANTIS web properties generated more than 526M page views and reached over 32M visitors in the month of July, an increase of over 1200% and 160%, respectively, compared to the same period last year.

Traditional, mainstream advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook have taken a cold-shoulder approach to companies focused on the legal cannabis industry, forcing brands to get creative and try alternative advertising avenues like MANTIS.

“With MANTIS, we can fully express the true nature of our products, which gives us the power to directly brand ourselves to a wide variety of potential customers that fit our target audience. The platform is incredibly user-friendly and allows us to generate valuable traffic to our website which has ultimately led to a high level of conversions. I’d absolutely recommend other companies in the niche give MANTIS a try; it’s a no-brainer if you ask us.” – Greg Gaston, VaporNation

 

The Cannabrander: CBD + Co. A First Product Case Study

By Ben Weinberg 

CBD + Co. produces pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol (CBD) in a well-equipped laboratory northeast of Boulder, Colorado.  “Our chief innovation is a water-soluble isolate that can be ingested sublingually,” relates Founder Stephen Bernard, a mechanical engineer who has spent more than a decade in the cannabis industry.  This means it continues to release active ingredients in a biocompatible way even after being swallowed.  It’s a major step, and given his company’s focus it makes no sense to follow the branding practices of stoner subculture, “not if we want to reach serious people while providing legitimacy to the business of cannabis.”

Bernard and Alex Cullota, the company’s Cofounder, first looked at other available CBDs, which are most popular as tinctures (alcoholic extracts that don’t fit everyone’s taste).  They then incorporated their water-soluble isolate into honey, a natural product with positive health connotations.  Another critical decision was to package Honey Drops in blue glass, representative of laboratory packaging, instead of subculture-standard colors and materials.

According to Cullota, a veteran consultant in chemicals, oil, gas, and construction, such tactics build on CBD + Co.’s reputation for bringing the science of cannabis front-and-center.  “We cater to ‘Productive Potheads’, people who use cannabis to do creative things, and our branding proposition reflects this.”

The Hard Part

Of course, there have been stumbles along the way.  Facebook shut down Bernard’s personal page, and early on there were misunderstandings about online marketing.  “We originally built big,” explains Douglas Wilson, a former military man who now consults for CBD + Co. in IT and cybersecurity, “with an expensive website that wasn’t exactly turnkey.  But we had no effective content management and we weren’t sure if we could actually sell something about which we couldn’t openly converse.”

Wilson bursts through this paradigm via the clever use of pictures and videos depicting bright, sunny places where consumers engage in productive activities such as yoga, gaming, and athletics.  “We’re changing the image of the cannabis user by showing off the science behind a healthy lifestyle that includes our products.”

Cullota believes that the closest space in this regard is Big Pharma, and that many branding problems can be solved by looking there.  “Drug companies sell their most controversial products by socially engineering their target markets.  This usually involves aligning the general perception of their drugs with productive lifestyle choices.”

Wilson also believes that simply pointing out the government’s acceptance of CBD and other compounds via U.S. patent can help people accept life empowering solutions.  To quote the patent abstract, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties… This newfound property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune…”  Spreading awareness via the major actors in CBD-manageable illnesses, primarily chronic pain issues such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, and neurodegenerative quirks like cerebral palsy and epilepsy, also make intuitive sense.

The Future

The company continues to innovate as a major part of its value proposition.  “We’re currently isolating tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and THCA,” says Bernard, “and we’re working on THCV, cannabigerol (CBG), and cannabinol (CBN).”  It’s taken CBD + Co. three years to get to this point, and the plan is to continue to improve incrementally while creating qualitative differences versus the competition.  A long-term goal is to eventually sell to Big Pharma and anyone else who needs high quality, cannabis derived compounds.

The Bottom Line

Branding a cannabis related product, particularly a company’s first foray into the marketplace, can be a distinct challenge.  One way to cut through the chaff of subculture is to focus on pictures and especially video as a form of social engineering that leans toward the customers who represent the best of your targeted market.

 


Ben Weinberg, JD, MBA, the President of Ben Weinberg Consultants, has more than 30 years of experience in harnessing his creativity to tell your company’s story, including strategic and tactical marketing, sales, operational, and administrative consulting for small- and medium-size businesses across diverse industries such as law, medicine, wellness, leisure, and hospitality. Ben has written professionally for many international magazines and newspapers, online and in print, including as a contributing editor and Editor-in-Chief, is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and has won multiple awards for creative writing.

How Rescheduling Could Have Changed Cannabis Marketing

By Celeste Miranda

COLORADO: The DEA schedules substances, chemicals and drugs into 5 classified categories. Between Schedule 1 to 5 the level of potential for abuse gets more likely as the number goes down, so Schedule 1 is listed as the most dangerous for the public and Schedule 5 the least.  A Schedule 1 drug has been identified by the government as a substance with no potential for medicinal use and a high potential for abuse. Aside from cannabis schedule I also includes ecstasy, peyote and heroin. This DEA scheduling makes cannabis highly illegal to carry without the proper permits and also bars any scientific research on the medicinal value of the plant.

For the last couple of months the DEA has been pushing back their announcement on rescheduling cannabis to Schedule II. Last week they announced that cannabis would remain Schedule 1 which has equally angered and saddened the cannabis community. Not only does this continue the war on patients that has been raging across the country, but the negative effects of federal restrictions are more severe than cocaine and oxycodone blanket every aspect of the plant from research to marketing.

Real scientific research feeds an educational marketing platform.  One of the biggest problems that cannabis has faced is a lack of scientific research. Being classified as Schedule I, any relevant scientific research outside of cannabis that comes from a sterile government garden and is carried out by only a few government approved scientists. The ability to prove that the plant has medicinal value and move past a Schedule I classification is being blocked by that same classification. If and when the feds finally reschedule cannabis we will be able to partake in valuable research that will only fuel marketing efforts. If all of the research analysts that have been dying to get well grown hydroponic, outdoor and aeroponic cannabis into their laboratories were finally able to, there would be a bounty of research to fuel new content that will bring in an entirely untapped target demographic. Educational based platforms are the only way to ensure that no target client is left out of a marketing campaign and currently the cannabis education is mostly just conjecture or experiential. With real, hard data proving the medicinal value of cannabis the entire industry could change.