Calling all Cannabis Brands – 5 FAQs about Entertainment Opportunities

I’ve spoken with a countless number of cannabis brands since I founded my agency and while it’s still unclear what government agencies will decide when it comes to future regulations (state and national), with recreational marijuana being legalized in key states, the prohibition is over and the stigma is slowly being lifted from the cannabis industry.  The cannabis industry is about to BOOM.

Up until now, social media and cannabis industry-specific media outlets have been the primary platforms for brands to promote their products and/or services (aside from working directly with dispensaries and budtenders). Many cannabis brands have successfully leveraged niche lifestyle influencers through successful affiliate marketing programs with proven ROI. Those tactics are a great way to build a business and those programs will continue to grow, but it’s time to go a step above and really differentiate yourself. 

With the “stoner stigma” being lifted and the fact that cannabis will be legal on a national level (if the projections are accurate), the opportunity for any cannabis brand is about to grow exponentially. It’s not just about sales anymore, the conversation will turn to brand awareness and perception with the goal of reaching new demographics and creating new potential customers across the US and internationally.

So, what’s next?

·      How do you become top of mind?

·      How do you make your product a national brand? 

·      How do you pull away from the rest of the pack, in an already saturated market that continues to grow rapidly? 

·      How do you get ahead of the curve? 

·      How do you maintain your brand image and amplify it to a larger audience?

ANSWER: Entertainment is KING. Whether it’s a beach bum vibe or sophisticated creative mindset you’re trying to recreate, it’s all about how the consumer “experiences” your brand and there are entertainment partnerships to help your brand achieve your goals through branded content.  

Hollywood events, celebrities and influencers are looking for strategic partnerships in the cannabis category NOW.


1.      How much for a celebrity to post on social media about our brand? And are they open to an affiliate program?

A.     The cost will vary by celebrity, based on social media reach, current project, and many other factors. Social media influencers, even with a large following, are almost always cheaper, but that is because there is value associated with being attached to a celebrity that has another platform outside of their social media.

I don’t generally recommend “social media post ONLY” campaigns, as they are more successful when they are linked to a larger campaign or piece of content. That being said, in terms of budget, there are few celebrities that will be willing to post for less than $5k per post - And many celebrities only want long-term engagements, not one-offs. Some may be open to an affiliate/% of revenue program as part of the deal, but celebrities will always require an upfront cash fee in addition the % of revenue. 100% revenue based deals are not an option when dealing with this level of talent.

2.      Are music festivals open to cannabis-related sponsorships/integrations?

A.     Yes. Activation details and budgets vary per music festival and type of associated event. (Coachella and Stagecoach are both open!!)

3.      What other opportunities are available for cannabis brands?

A.     Approval for cannabis brands is still a case by case basis, but the following are all open for discussions:

· Celebrity Event Appearance

· Celebrity Licensed Product Line/Celebrity Endorsement

· Music Video Integration

· Music Tour Sponsorship

· Private Party Sponsor (Malibu Beach House, Celebrity-Hosted Music Festival Parties)

· Event Sponsorships (Customized per Event)

· Gift Lounges

· Branded Integration – Web Series or Horror Film

· And more…sky is the limit.

4.      What kind of budgets do we need?

A.     Budgets are flexible and negotiable. Generally we can find something for every budget, but please refer to the “New Year, NEW BUDGET” blog for more budget and asset details.

5.      We’ve been approached for gift bag sponsorship opportunities. Should we do it, is it a good idea?

A.     NO. NEVER. Save your product and marketing budget for something with a larger ROI.

Final Thought: There is no limit to creativity. Brands, celebrities, productions, and events are all open to suggestions and ideas to a degree. It will come down to the final details of the activation and budget to see if it can become a reality.

Celebrity Endorsements in Politics: Election 2016 Edition

There's been a lot of talk about whether celebrity endorsements are an effective marketing tactic based on the results of the most recent election. Clinton had an A-List cast supporting her, each with their own platform and social media following "behind them". So why didn't she win?

Obviously this is one of many variables, but what we learned this week from a marketing perspective - 

Do not underestimate the consumer.

Over and over again in my business, when a brand is looking for a celebrity partner, the ask is for an "organic and authentic" relationship. The reason is not just so the brand can say that in a press release, but because the celebrity's audience and the target consumer will welcome and positively engage with the campaign, which if executed correctly will result in increased brand awareness and sales. For the campaign to be successful, the celebrity endorsement must be relatable and the celebrity chosen must be viewed as a knowledgeable influencer by the target consumer.

Ask yourself why you follow your favorite celebrities. Why are you a fan? What do you expect to see in their content? What are their specialties and what are they "experts" in?

Top Reasons:

  • Celebrities are funny/Celebrities are hot!
  • Get a glimpse into their everyday life, get to know them on a more personal level
  • Behind-the-scenes content/New project updates
  • Lifestyle (including fitness, diet/food, and travel)
  • Fashion/Beauty Trends

Taylor Swift is the reason I keep giving red lipstick a try, Marshawn Lynch re-introduced Skittles to my adult life, and if I could buy Anna Kendrick's "cool", I would. But when it comes to politics, there are few celebrities that make politics part of their regular dialogue and have established themselves as knowledgeable resources in that field. Did anyone Google their favorite athlete/actor/comedian/model/musician specifically for their political views? Not likely. Most celebrities are not experts well versed in policies, nor are they a "go-to" for those looking for political or financial insights. Therefore, celebrity endorsements in the political arena, while great for a headline and maybe sparking a conversation, only carry so much weight.

When it came to this election, voters analyzing their personal circumstances and making decisions that represent their needs did not look to celebrities as key influencers. But that does not mean celebrities don't influence other consumer purchase behavior and overall brand awareness. As all the best performing celebrity partnerships, this is just a reminder that celebrity-driven campaigns must be relatable and utilize a celebrity established as a true influencer and expert in order to be effective. So no, the celebrity endorsement isn't dead. It just has its place, which is currently not in politics.

Marketing Lesson of the Week: For any celebrity engagement, do not underestimate the consumer's ability to make their own decisions and recognize the appropriate influencers for a particular decision, whether they are selecting their next shade of lipstick or the next President Elect.

Lesson of the Week: Be kind. Love America and love one another.