Once the centre of the war of drugs, cannabis is now at the centre of a growing industry and massive consumer market. The industry has been ablaze over the past few years with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing its legalisation for recreational use across the country, alongside 33 US states who have legalised it in some shape or form. Already legal in some countries, it’s only a matter of time before the consumer market begins to fully open up this side of the Atlantic.
Major Brands Investing
As the legalisation of cannabis begins to grip the world, many brands and holding companies, particularly in the alcohol industry, are looking at ways to invest into the newly classified recreational drug as it begins to undercut their own consumer market.
Constellation Brands, the company behind Corona, increased its stake in Canopy Growth, a Canadian cannabis company, from 9.9 percent to 38% investing a whopping US$ 4 billion in the company. Anheuser-Busch’s collaboration with cannabis company Tilray for the production of cannabis-infused drinks is another example of the growing interest for major brands in the cannabis market.
Marlboro’s parent company, Altria, invested $1.8 billion dollar in Cronos, a company which specializes in cannabis production. A sign that another industry is seeing the legalisation of cannabis as a threat to their existing consumer market.
With big investments, big marketing budgets are beginning to emerge and the market is beginning to heat up.
The Road Ahead
With more European countries likely to follow suit in near future, it’s only a matter of time before agencies here will begin to sink their teeth in briefs and take on the market. It will be interesting to see how the market presents itself from a regulatory point of view. Alcohol advertising is locked down or restricted to varying degrees across European markets and the marketing of cannabis will likely follow suit.
It’s hard to picture brand ambassadors handing out samples around Piccadilly Circus, or celebrities endorsing products. The future is unclear but taking a look at how US and Canadian cannabis brands are advertising their products certainly show us that it will no doubt be an exciting market where creative, tongue and cheek campaigns will play a massive role in grabbing the consumer’s attention.
Who’s doing it well?
The cannabis retail company MedMen recently launched a campaign called “The New Normal” which featured the history of marijuana farming in the USA and how in modern times the legalisation took a darker turn which caused a taboo around the plant. This is the brand’s latest effort to normalize the conversation and make cannabis a mainstream commodity.
Ignite Cannabis Company
Ignite Cannabis, is the brainchild of Instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian. The company was founded in 2017 when he realized there is a gap in the market for premium cannabis products. With initial backlash on the sexually explicit visuals in the ads, Ignite continues to be an unapologetic cannabis company. Over the top ad banners and active promotion on Instagram has kept the brand in the news.
Not necessarily as product, and more of a service, Weedmaps is an online cannabis directory that helps consumers find nearly dispensaries. Weedmaps launced their Weedfacts Billboard Campaign to encourage conversation about the legalisation of Cannabis and facts around the industry. Weedmaps have been facing jurisdiction challenges in acquiring ad space, but have come up with creative alternatives with their advertising.