The Wink In Weed: Why You Should Join Me At CCC PDX

By David Rheins

2018 will be a crucial year for the legal cannabis industry.  Five years after the first adult-use marijuana marketplaces opened in Colorado and Washington, our industry has grown large and gone mainstream.  Big and getting bigger, with the opening of the California and Nevada markets, Oregon is now part of a contiguous legal West Coast spanning from Canada to Mexico. CannaFest Destiny has never seemed more apparent, and competition never more fierce.

Legal cannabis production has never been higher, while wholesale prices have never been lower.  The harsh reality for an industry that is hyper-competitive, overtaxed and over-regulated, is that for most licensees profit margins have never been tighter.  Many mom and pops have already sold out, and many more are on that fence.  Add to this the recent saber rattling of drug-warrior-turned-Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, and it is easy to see that for many in the industry, 2018 has begun as a time of great uncertainty and anxiety.

CCCPDX issues an industry call to action

CCCPDX issues an industry call to action

As I wrote in my “Open Letter to Jeff Sessions,”  now is the time for industry leaders, businesses and supporters to stand united.  We must show that not only has our legal industry become a vital engine of reform and economic activity —  generating hundreds of millions in new tax revenues — but we have reinvigorated communities across the country by creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

The industry has arrived at a critical juncture in its evolution, and Oregon is on the front lines of the fight for an independent legal industry.  As the Cannabis Collaborative Conference’s Mary Lou Burton puts it, “The CCC has grown up with the industry in Oregon.  Now three years into full legalization, we no longer need to offer cannabis 101 education.  Now we are focused on education geared towards successfully and profitably operating in the current environment. ”

Differentiate: The commercialization and mainstreaming of the legal cannabis industry has put enormous pressure on licensees , who must focus on building brand equity and establishing effective marketing practices that will allow them to stand out from the competition.  I’m delighted to be moderating the marketing panel discussion at CCC this year, where along with canna-brand experts Stephen Gold, The Daily Leaf; Sean Lucas, NUG Digital Marketing; and Ryan Michael, KindTyme, we will discuss the top branding and marketing trends  that every canna-marketer must know. 

Activate: Congressman Earl Blumenauer will once again deliver a keynote speech at the conference. “This is a call to action.” he said in response to the Sessions announcement. “It’s time for anyone who cares about cannabis to mobilize to defend state marijuana laws.”

Burton added, “come together with fellow law abiding and tax paying professionals in the Cannabis Industry and unite!  CCC 4.0 provides the perfect opportunity to ban together and show the media and the world that we will not back down.”

REGISTER TODAY and receive $50 off (promo code: CCC50)

Kokane Launches ‘Don’t Go’ With Hi-Tunes High Rise Video

WASHINGTON: How much higher can you get?  Well, if you are socially-conscious hip hop artist Kokane, the answer is 39 stories high above the Seattle waterfront.

Signing the deal with Hi-Tunes

Signing the deal with Hi-Tunes

Kokane and crew — Seattle producers — Chris Pack, Zac Levine and Milo Eubank — were recently spotted shooting a music video on the highest outdoor patio in Seattle — the HQ of Hi-Tunes — where they were cutting the deal to become the first song released on the Hi-Tunes platform.

The campaign was the brainchild of Hi-Tunes founder Scott McKinley, who was inspired by a “Higher” a tribute song that the artist wrote about his deal with Hi-Tunes. “Our video shoot with the Legendary Kokane was a huge success,” McKinley told MJ News Network. “The whole day fell in place beautifully — from the weather to the network of people that showed up — we couldn’t have asked for a better shoot.”

Kokane Launches ‘Higher’ With Hi-Tunes High Rise Video Shoot

Kokane Launches ‘Don’t Go’ Featuring Snoop Dogg With Hi-Tunes

As part of the historic music distribution deal, “Don’t Go” featuring Snoop Dogg , will be marketed along with two kief pre-rolls, and sold through Washington legal pot shops.  A special QR code on the label sends consumers to the Hi-Tunes web site where they can stream and download the song, and participate in other band engagements.  The release is scheduled to debut at i-502 retailer Emerald Leaves, where the climax of the video – a fan meet and greet — will be shot.

 

at the Hi-Tunes HQ

at the Hi-Tunes HQ

Hi-Tunes is leveraging digital technology to create innovative distribution channels linking artists with a vast array of marketable products.  By embedding their music into a multitude of consumer purchases, Hi-Tunes provides musical artists with new revenue streams generated from their music sales, plus greater ability to target specific audience segments, and gain valuable insights into consumption behavior and market dynamics.

 

420MEDIA Hires Veteran TV Agency Executive To Spearhead Mainstream Advertising, Programming & Commercial Placement

NEVADA: 420MEDIA, an advertising agency that creates, produces, and distributes cannabis media-TV, web, and digitally, has hired a veteran TV agency executive John Graziano, to spearhead mainstream advertising, programming and commercial advertising placements. Since inception in 2014, 420MEDIA has created content, relationships in the industry and mainstream with groundbreaking opportunities for cannabis brands to showcase their products to millions. 

“John represents the highest level in media executives. He will be instrumental in helping to bring world class media to the emerging marketplace of cannabis. We’re ecstatic to have him as our in-house media buyer,” said Kerri Accardi, 420MEDIA CEO.

Mr. Graziano has spent 43 years in broadcast media placement. Prior to founding the well-known ad agency, Max Media, John spent 8 years in broadcast ownership and management. Before that he was Senior Vice President of a major national advertising sales firm where he spent 8 years supervising more than $400 million in annual media billing. John’s background also includes 10 years of hi-profile national advertising account management. He’s held positions of Vice President of Advertising for Wherehouse Record Stores, a national retail chain that spent over $75 million annually. He has handled hundreds of major accounts successfully.

John will handle both large and small media accounts, from institutional advertisers, to brand names, to direct response clients and will personally be involved in all phases of the marketing process and carefully monitors the progress made by each of the media accounts assigned to him. 

“The opportunity to be involved with 420MEDIA, and to handle accounts in cannabis-related industries, is an exciting new venture. We will pioneer this field and bring these important businesses to the general public’s attention through effective mainstream and new media,” Graziano said. “Nobody has more experience and expertise there, nobody!”

Las Vegas Dispensary Acres Cannabis Is First Dispensary To Advertise In-Flight With Major US Airline

NEVADA: One of Nevada’s top dispensaries, Acres Cannabis announces a revolutionary deal with a major U.S. airline to advertise in-flight. This marks a historic first for the Cannabis Industry in the United States.

This latest announcement continues to puff new life into the “Cannabis Experience.” Located at 2320 Western Avenue, the company has quickly become an industry disruptor, evoking the vibe of a speakeasy for a community of “high”-minded clientele. Engaging the audience, Acres has hosted local art events, breakdancing competitions, Uber bikini car washes, mustache and beard trimming, and FREE “Dopenuts” from their open view Cannabis Kitchen with any purchase over $20.

Founder and CEO John Mueller commented, “Acres recent Airline campaign creates another first for the marijuana industry, and helps propel all of us towards mainstream acceptance. Acres plans to continue to lead the industry by cultivating one of a kind cannabis experiences.”

Las Vegas currently has 55 Recreational Dispensaries to serve the 42 million visitors who travel to the city each year.

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.

The Art Of Marketing Marijuana

How to make pot seem as all-American as an ice-cold beer

In the summer of 2014, The New York Times published its first-ever marijuana ad. The occasion was the enactment of New York’s Compassionate Care Act, which legalized pot for some medical uses. The ad, a congratulatory note from a Seattle start-up, depicted a well-dressed, newspaper-toting man standing on his stoop while a young woman jogged past. Both wore determined expressions; the man, according to the text, consumed marijuana “to relieve his MS symptoms,” and the woman used it “while fighting cancer.” The ad made sense for its time and place. Earlier that year, Colorado and Washington State had begun allowing the sale of recreational pot, and critics were warning that as more states followed suit, profit-motivated corporations could start marketing a lot of pot to a lot of people. Savvy marijuana businesses, worried about confirming this suspicion, stuck to depictions of their most sympathetic users.

Pot’s image problem has since begun to fade, especially in states like Washington and Colorado. Two more states, Oregon and Alaska, have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, and several others may soon have the opportunity to join them. But the people who sell the drug are facing a predicament. In a legal market, cannabis—the plant from which pot is derived—comes to resemble many other farmed products: One grower’s plant looks and tastes a lot like his neighbor’s. (Some pot connoisseurs with sensitive palates can differentiate among strains of cannabis—and even among brands—but they’re as rare as the coffee drinker who can guess his beans’ origins.) John Kagia, the director of industry analytics at New Frontier, which studies the marijuana business, is convinced that pot is becoming commoditized. In Colorado, the supply of marijuana flower is going up, and its cost down, partly because of technological advancements and larger, more efficient operations—just the kind of forces that have turned other products into commodities.

Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can’t Be Mailed, Feds Warn

OREGON: The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it is a felony to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.

The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association forwarded the recent federal advisory to its 100 or so members this week. The group’s executive director said the association “strongly discourages” Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. mail for delivery from accepting “any type of marijuana advertising.”

“It is against the law,” Laurie Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. “Unfortunately, ONPA cannot do anything about this.”

Marijuana Growers Focus On Branding To Fetch Premium Prices For What They Say Is Premium Product

OREGON: Sara Batterby looks forward to the day her marijuana is treated like produce in a Portland grocery store – where cage-free eggs are a dollar more than plain eggs and organic tomatoes from the Willamette Valley are a cut above ones from California.

Batterby is chief executive of Hifi Farms in Portland, which grows pot indoors using organic techniques. But her specialty crop doesn’t fetch a higher price the way organic food would.

“You can have someone growing very average product, covering it with pesticides and chemicals, and their product is valued in the current market the same way my product is valued – which is 100 percent organic, clean, sustainable,” said Batterby, who is also president of the Portland chapter of Women Grow, which promotes what it calls cannabis entrepreneurs.

 

Apple “WeedWatch” Ad To Be Featured In Marijuana Green Pages

WASHINGTON – A clever parody ad showcasing Apple’s canna-friendly chronometer, iWatch,  has taken out a full page ad in the upcoming Marijuana Green Pages business directory.  Seattle-based multi-media company Higher Ground released the “WeedWatch” ad to coincide with the April 20th pot holiday, “4/20”, and the release of the Apple Watch on April 24th.

The ad, featuring a photo of the iWatch with the simple text, “Time for a Change: Legalize It” will appear in a Premium Position of the Marijuana Green Pages in the Wearable Technology section.

“The Apple Watch is a revolutionary product, and the legalization of marijuana in States across the country is also a revolutionary movement,”notes Higher Ground Editor-in-Chief Michael A. Stusser. “The message of our parody is as simple as the solution to the War on Drugs: Legalize It.  It’s time to end Prohibition, and legalize, regulate and tax cannabis at the federal level. I can think of no better place to showcase this powerful message than as a full page ad in  a premium position in the Marijuana Green Pages, the most authoritative business directory of legal cannabis businesses ever created. The Weed Watch just had to be represented.”

One of the most innovative features of Apple’s Watch is the ability for users to customize the face of the device, and add additional information. In Higher Ground’s parody, they have taken the liberty to do just that! The watch face is full of humorous and advocacy-related apps including NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), SXSW, Leafly (a Yelp-like mobile app for marijuana), 7-11, Cannabis News Network, and Doritos. The time? 4:20.

Based out of Seattle, where recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, Higher Ground is attempting to “Elevate the Dialogue”and broaden the movement nationally. While legal in Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon, the use, sale or distribution of cannabis is still a felony at the federal level, and over 600,000 Americans are arrested every year for marijuana-related offenses.

The launch of the Apple Watch continues to garner significant media coverage, as it is the first new product device from Apple since CEO Tim Cook took over the company. PreOrders for the iWatch began on April 10th, selling over a million units, and will begin shipping on April 24th. Using guerilla-style marketing, In addition to the Marijuana Green Pages, Higher Ground’s WeedWatch campaign will appear on posters, leaflets and mobile billboards adjacent to Apple stores nationwide.

ABOUT HIGHER GROUND

Higher Ground produces the world’s first satirical news program about the legalization movement, along with a newspaper column and website. A multi-media company, Higher Ground creates highly-produced video assets including a flagship program (a mix between The Daily Show and CNN, just without that annoying Wolfe Blitzer fellow), a syndicated column on the legalization movement, a comprehensive and entertaining news website, events (Cooking with Cannabis!), along with viral social-media parodies.

Higher Ground has created a variety of videos and parodies that attempt to vaporize stoner-cliches (including a ReMix of Cheech & Chong’s iconic “Up in Smoke”), while also educating the public on the changing landscape of legalization. Along with their YouTube videos, the company has repurposed posters from the Reefer Madness era with an Original Artists Series, updated MadMen (whose characters smoke from vaporizers instead of cancer-sticks), and even crafted a Seattle Seahawks logo entirely out of marijuana in honor of the Beast Mode strain (named after running back Marshawn Lynch). Stusser’s Higher Ground column also runs in the Seattle Weekly.

For more information, contact Michael Stusser at michael@michaelstusser.com

 

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