Endorsements from celebrities bring attention and new customers to products. From sneakers to sodas, celebrities use their star power in the hopes that some of it will rub off on the product. Some even start their own companies and sell their own products instead of endorsing others. There is no difference in the world of cannabis and cannabis products.
Many celebrities have developed with the industry and have started to put their mark on cannabis products, giving the all important brand recognition that follows their celebrity status.
Challenges in Advertising Cannabis
In the cannabis world, product placements have to adhere to stricter standards. In most states, even in ones where cannabis is completely legal, there is a prohibition on non-product placement forms of advertising for marijuana.
In California there is a Proposition, Prop 64, that prohibits all advertising through broadcast, cable, radio, print or the internet unless “at least 71.6 percent of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 years of age or older.”
In Colorado, marijuana-related pop-up ads, as well as advertising to “out of state persons” are prohibited, meaning that a weed business in Colorado cannot run national advertisements.
In Alaska, government regulations state that a place selling weed “may not have more than three signs” strangely, weed producers in Alaska are also prevented from claiming that there are “curative or therapeutic effects” in their product.
Even worse, the two largest entities in digital advertising, Google and Facebook, prohibit any advertising of marijuana and other related products. Facebook has a blanket ban on any drug advertisements and Google considers marijuana a “dangerous product or service”.
Creativity Wins – The Celebrity Power
Under these restrictions, standing out is hard.
But in this environment, brands have set up heavy investments in endorsements and product placements.
There are even whole companies set up to facilitate partnerships between brands and celebrities. The largest of which is Green Street, a cannabis creative agency which has brokered deals for rappers like Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, and Game, and also representing Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup and California’s Cannabis Chalice, two of the world’s biggest cannabis festivals.
One of the biggest names in cannabis, Tommy Chong, half of the weed-based comedy duo Cheech and Chong, jumped headfirst into the legal cannabis world putting his name on a line of marijuana products called “Chong’s Choice”. These products are available through regional licensees in Arizona, California, Colarado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
Snoop Dogg’s own branded marijuana line, Leafs by Snoop, is a line of leaves, edibles and concentrates that include flavors such as Lemon Pie, Northern Lights, and Cali Kush. It touts itself as the first mainstream cannabis brand and sets itself as a trailblazer for the industry. Since Snoop Dogg isn’t a Colorado resident, he can’t legally own the brand so the company Beyond Broadway which operates under the name LivWell has official ownership and is responsible for growing the marijuana plants and manufacturing the products.
The Red-Haired Stranger himself, Wille Nelson, released his own line of cannabis strains, aptly named “Willie’s Reserve” available in select shops. He’s also thinking about opening his own recreational marijuana shops in permitted states.
Wiz Khalifa joined in the endorsements by creating a new mobile game all about cannabis. Wiz Khalifa’s Weed Farm spotlights a glimpse into the future of legalized cannabis. The game is available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.
R&B sensation The Weeknd teamed up with leading vape company PAX Labs, Inc. for a limited edition of their PAX 2 vaporizer. As an official co-sponsor of The Weeknd’s “The Madness” North American past fall tour, Pax sold the vape side by side with the tour’s merchandise.
Watch any modern hip-hop video and you may be surprised to see product placements for vape pens. The video for “Promise,” a 2015 song by Kid Ink and Fetty Wap shows two boxes of KandyPens, a vaporizer used to consume marijuana. In the rest of the video, almost everyone is using a KandyPen.
KandyPens is among the products with extreme product placements having parts in Fetty Wap’s “My Way”, DJ Khaled’s “Do You Mind” and “I’m the One”, and Migos’ “What The Price”. Rappers such as A$AP Rochy and Young Thug have partnered with the brand as well.
KandyPens has even launched an artist partnership program, the “Bodega” video by artist Boogz Boogetz is the first offering under their Artist Ambassador Program. Other rap acts such as Chicago-based Dreezy, Florida-based MC Kodak Black and Toronto’s OB O’Brien have also been tapped by KandyPens to be brand ambassadors.
The companies are making a strong effort to get their products out there. KandyPen’s Vice President of Sales, Roger Zandt says that they have about 12 celebrity endorsements with 35 videos and product integrations.
Even if the playing field has been difficult in terms of what these companies can legally do, there seems to be no slump in getting these endorsements from celebrities with some brands hoping that marijuana will become America’s new wine.