Early in the music video for his song “Light My Fire,” Sean Paul showed off a package of edibles from cannabis brand Select.
Showcasing the brand in a video released last month is part of Select parent company Curaleaf’s efforts to more standardize its brand Curaleaf Brand Marketing Associate President Sydney Chernish said it was also part of the culture.
Working with celebrities like Paul “is increasingly becoming a marketing tool that we consider,” explains Said Chernish, because it could help companies “go beyond some of the intricacies of state-to-state” cannabis advertising regulations. Although Curaleaf products are now available in 22 states, each state has its own regulations governing what cannabis brands are possible in terms of advertising, making traditional advertising and marketing efforts difficult. In this context, finding ways to become part of the culture becomes more appealing and an important business need.
“ We are definitely looking for more opportunities to integrate culture, whether it’s with celebrities or other ways of reaching new consumers,” Chernish said. “[We are also considering] partnerships with other brands or celebrities who are building brands.”
It is unclear how much Curaleaf spent with Paul Co-sponsored and appeared in the music video as Chernish declined to share the numbers. Chernish also didn’t share how Curaleaf broke its advertising budget, as it has to do so on a state-by-state basis given different regulations. That said, Pathmatics data found that Curaleaf spent $114,000 on advertising year-to-date and $174,200 last year. Most of this is for desktop digital display advertising.
In terms of ad spend strategy, Curaleaf plans to develop a monthly budget for each state based on each state’s revenue. These budgets aren’t set in stone — should Curaleaf need to move budgets to different locations based on new initiatives the company will take.
Curaleaf is one of many cannabis brands aiming to take a CPG approach and normalize cannabis as the industry continues to evolve. As previously reported, cannabis brands like Slang Worldwide and Cresco Labs seek to normalize cannabis amid regulatory headaches change.
Working with celebrities like Paul to normalize the brand and make it part of the culture with music videos can help cannabis brands stand out. “Celebrities can work if it feels real,” said Duane Brown, founder of performance marketing agency Take Some Risk, when asked about the approach. “[It only works when] that person uses the product or the product in the space, and it’s not just a pay-to-play type of transaction.”
Considering Complexity In interstate regulations, Curaleaf has taken a similar approach to the big global brands.
“We create assets at the central level, which then need to be highly localized and tailored to each state’s specific legality,” Chernish said of this approach Say. “In some of the more mature states like California, we have more traditional marketing channels at our disposal. You can see things like billboards, digital marketing, magazine ads. It’s really only possible to sell point-of-sale items in-store. The variation between states is mind-boggling.”
Brown said that for a brand like Curaleaf, the It makes sense to adopt this approach to advertising strategy. However, “seeing how it actually performs will be where the rubber meets the road,” Brown said. “Doing POV causes a lot of problems.”
Even so, this approach can help Curaleaf stand out in the long run. “The market is so fragmented and there are so many small businesses,” said Alan Adamson, brand consultant and co-founder of Metaforce. “The winner will be a brand that can get some scale. Figure out how to do a high level of brand messaging and It’s smart to adjust. It’s not easy, but it’s smart. Brand recognition will allow [brands like Curaleaf] to beat smaller brands and gain scale. Scale matters because there will be a shock — eventually , the key is who will be big and do it right.”