Category Archives: Insights


8 WAYS CANNABIS BRANDS ARE TAKING A CREATIVE LEAD

A buzzing industry that hasn’t even gained its footing yet – cannabis has already transformed a strictly medicinal field to a playground of spirited young brands fighting to stand out. The harsh reality is that the industry is riddled with proposed restrictions that are seriously damaging (if not killing) our creative buzz. Some of the recent reco’s include:

 

 

Just the tip of the legal iceberg they places bitter restraints on brands that need to differentiate themselves from others and the black market.

Bonus: mega-platforms Facebook and Google have a strict no-drug policy for advertising, forcing brands to become even savvier when creating content. The good news is that we still have powerful advocates like Allan Rewark (Cannabis Canada Council) who is actively pushing for rules closer to alcohol, “if we’re going to be successful in getting rid of the black market, the simple reality is we need brand differentiation.” For more inspiration, see our top 8 approaches to being creative in Canada’s newest industry:

1. Social Media Influencers have a very large, engaged audience that follows their every move, suggestion and post. “Organically” sharing your product with an influencer slips by the proposed bans on celebrity endorsement or corporate sponsorship and allows access to a concentrated, potential customer base. (Check out @BigMike or @ImCannaBess on Instagram to see how it’s done).

2. Blogs & Podcasts are great opportunities for you to create content that offers information and lets you promote your brand more freely.

3. Newsletters can incorporate video and speak to a market you’ve already locked down, new leads or those who have shown an interest in your brand. This easily broadens your reach, while providing valuable data about your audience.

4. Cannabis Community Platforms: are fantastic for the industry. Hubs like Leafly provide information on strains, products, news and have an archive of videos covering various topics. Leveraging these resources and sharing content with them is a powerful promotional tactic.

5. Motion Design can showcase atmosphere, themes, emotions, and ideologies without showing cannabis or even saying the word. MD has the capability to describe and articulate abstract ideas, systems, and methodologies while building brand awareness. (Check out our video for Vital Strategies or Tokr)

6. Lifestyle Videos: connect with your audience, showcasing the ideologies and personality of your brand and the community around it. It provides a mindset, ideology, culture, and an emotional connection. (Check out Biion or Kindred Relief)

7. Back to the Basics: stay positive, proactive and reactive to new legislation. Things are going to change fast and you should always stay tuned to the competition and embrace new ideas to ensure you’re at the top of the creative chain!  

Our Fav’s: 
Those aren’t the only ways to promote brands and businesses – we’ve selected our top fav innovative cannabis campaigns – check them out here.

If you liked this article, visit our brand new specialty webpage for the cannabis industry learn more about creating for your brand and see how others are promoting themselves the right way.

CANNABIS BRANDS ARE THINKING OUTSIDE-THE-BOX

Being creative is hard when you’re haunted by a myriad of proposed rules and possible constraints, so how do people overcome the impossible when it comes to branding the un-brandable? We rounded up our favourite campaigns that are totally outside-of-the-box while hitting the creative nail right on the head.

 

MedMen: Forget Stoner Campaign

What It’s About: This ad campaign showcases regular people like police officers, and grandmothers who all use cannabis for reasons such as pain management. California’s regulations on placement are similar to Canada’s proposed ones, allowing ads in markets “with at least 71.6% reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.”  Still, MedMen had to be creative and ensured the ads only depicted people and lifestyle, instead of their product or how it’s used.

Why We Love It: It shuts down harsh stereotypes about antisocial and lazy stoners and promotes the real cannabis community – an inclusive network of people from all different walks of life and professions.

 

Patio Interactive – 360 VR Tours of Facilities, Packaging & Product

What It’s About: Using 360 video, VR, and AR companies like Patio Interactive showcase cannabis farms, their tech and their production process (the next best thing to a good old-fashioned brewery or wine tour). This creative has limitless possibilities and can even act as an attraction for marketing and entertainment events or trade shows. On the consumer side, augmented reality sidesteps the plain packaging proposition creating a unique product experience that shows off brand elements digitally.

We chatted with Charles Bern (Co-founder of Patio Interactive) to find out what he thinks of the possibilities: Brands can’t talk about any lifestyle-related benefits of their products but they can focus on other areas of differentiation. The market potential is in normalizing the product in the eyes of the masses. Winning brands can reduce the stigma by showing real aspects of their business, the technology they use and their processes to ensure quality”. Sounds pretty good to us.

Why We Love It: We love that this has virtually no boundaries. Creating content and incorporating animation and motion graphics for AR/VR means we can take promotion, packaging and brand differentiation to the next level, while controlling exposure to only those of legal age.

 

The Green Solution: Adopt-A-Highway

What It’s About: Sometimes you have to beat them at their own game, and that’s what’s happening in Colorado, a state with roughly 160 Adopt-a-Highway signs – half (80) of which have been sponsored by cannabis companies. The best part of this tactic? The cannabis co’s are significantly supporting the environment, “It’s actually helping us quite a bit with all the trash debris we have around the metro area” says department spokesperson Al Martinez.

Why We Love It: This is truly thinking outside-of-the-box, plus it’s doing good for the environment and community. We love the fact that a brand can create a positive impact, improve the perspective of their mission and get their name out there all in one simple sign on the side of a road.

 

AltaVie & MedReleaf: Safe Offerings to The Non-User


What It’s About: These brands have introduced both edibles and beer that are cannabis inspired, but do not contain the intoxicating effects of the plant. While AltaVie plans on introducing edibles, it is already selling, “marijuana-flavoured (but drug free) chocolate-coated toffee called Cannabis Crunch in a bid to acquaint consumers with their offerings before regulations involving edibles, expected in 2019.”  It’s a new age of trying before you buy the real thing. On the other hand, MedReleaf has already released a“cannabis-inspired (and marijuana-free) beer under its first recreational brand, San Rafael ‘71.” Go on to your local beer store, you can try it now. 

Why We Love It: Both are inspiring to the cannabis enthusiast and enticing to the non-user. Currently on the market due to their marijuana-free ingredients, they are exempt from the major restrictions we are seeing in proposed legislation. Added bonus: consumers can try the product and choose which flavours they like before purchasing the real thing in 2019.

 

Tokyo Smoke: Going Back To The Basics

What It Is: A great example of brands going back to the basics is Toronto based, coffee and shopping company and soon-to-be location for Tokyo Smoke cannabis products. Located in the hipster neighbourhood of Queen Street West, they’ve situated themselves right in the mecca of their Toronto market. “They have planted their flag in key metropolitan areas, and specific neighbourhoods to appeal to a certain kind of customer segment.” – Vice. Their focus: to build a relationship with their customers and increase loyalty to their brand by offering high-quality, unwavering product to the people that support them.

Why We Love It: This traditional approach is great for small to medium-sized business and even large (hell why not?). We love the fact that this approach keeps quality control and customer service at an all-time high, plus it works with any and all creative content the business dishes out to gain new customers and promote their brand.

Mythbusters Blog Thumbnail

Video Mythbusters: Everything You Thought Was A Lie

Mythbusters Blog Martha and Sam

 

Meet my friends Martha and Sam – Martha is a marketer and Sam runs a start-up. While I’m definitely cool enough for real friends – these are my theoretical ones and they have the same challenges you might face if you own your own business, run a start-up or control the marketing/advertising of a small-medium sized business.

 

Video-Mythbusters Blog Question One

A: Fortunately for both of us, new efficient processes, small flexible studios and animation means video can be scaled to fit almost any budget.

Here’s Why:

When you think of production, you usually picture a big-budget shoot costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, but with more businesses shifting to video a more accessible industry with scalable content has finally emerged. That means if you don’t have oodles of cash, you can still make breathtaking video that fits your needs instead of draining your bank account.

Speaking of price –  a professionally produced video will cost you around 20-30K if you want to do it right. If that number looks daunting, there are several ways to work with smaller budgets including using animation and collaborating with small, flexible studios that can handle everything from start to finish. 

 

A: Analytics, statistics and facts, that’s how.

Here’s Why:

Videos are fun to watch, (or so they should be) especially when they’re planned with the audience in mind, but do they really affect business goals? More importantly, how can they affect yours?

Did you know about 4x as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it? Maybe it’s human laziness or the attention span shrinking, regardless this trend positively affects your ROI (which is what we all really care about). The majority of marketers who use video actually grew their revenue 49% faster than their non-video competitors making it pretty clear that video has something to offer (plus it makes your site 50x more likely to make a first page google result). As Kendrick Lamar eloquently said: Damn.

While stats and numbers are a great base, it’s important to understand that each business is unique. That’s why we use a Discovery Phase to understand the individual’s goals coupled with video applications and analytics such as Wistia, Vidyard and Google Analytics to track the performance of their content so we know what’s working.

 

A: Sure, but you’ll need to constantly produce content to make it cost effective & they’ll need a team.

Here’s Why:

The average motion designer salary in Canada is $67K+ per year, but even if motion designers are wonderful creatives they’re not usually trained in planning, strategy, production, editing and finishing a video (meaning you’d have to hire people to do those jobs as well). A producer’s average salary is $75K+ and, like the motion designer they are not typically trained to come up with creative, therefore, you’d have to hire a creative and production team to support them.

 

A: There’s no one set process – we’re here to guide you through the steps, keep your goals and routines in mind so we can work together flawlessly.

Here’s Why:

New-age thinking like “understanding your problems” and “actually giving a crap about you” are extremely valuable and helped transform closed processes into collaborative and inclusive experiences. I’m personally more interested in making sure the people we work with are comfortable and confident in our abilities, the rest is just adjusting our process to fit your specific needs and goals. Take a gander at some of the real steps we go through in our process.

A: Having a partner that understands your branding, marketing and business model and also helps develop a strategy for your content that fits a bigger picture is imperative.

Here’s Why:

When you go for specialized studios that focus on fast and cheap you’ll most certainly get a video, but whether that content actually serves your greater needs and fits into the big picture is questionable. Things like branding, marketing plans, understanding goals, challenges and audience let full service studios create big-picture ideas that spearhead larger campaigns. Instead of making a one-off, these studios look at your business’ plans and create strategic content that fits your budget and creates a larger presence than just a singular video. See how several types of content worked together to create a big picture campaign.

 

Conclusion

If you’re like my friend Martha or Sam, and you have some questions about how to break into the world of video painlessly, shoot me a message –  I love making real friends.

 

 

Mythbusters Blog Martha and Sam Bye