Audience Is Key: Yadira Harrison, Co-founder, Verb

The industry as a whole is becoming more sophisticated with their design, packaging and outreach -- even with the shifting from the word ‘weed’ to cannabis.

Yadira Harrison, co-founder, Verb 

Facebook, Instagram and Google have banned marijuana marketing. What alternatives do you find the most effective to promote marijuana brands and products?

Experiential has proven to be an effective alternative to marijuana marketing that gets the product in front of potential or recurring consumers. Many brands are either integrating themselves at wellness retreats, business conferences or cultural festivals such as SXSW’s Cannabis Track or Rolling Stone’s House of Harvest at Coachella. Some are upleveling their retail experience to give consumers direct access to their brands as Dosist just did with their new Venice boutique. While a lot of brands are going mass, there is something to be said for scaling back and creating an intimate series of events that build buzz and WOM with a brand community.

How do regulations affect the execution of marketing campaigns and what are the solutions?

With the laws and guidelines changing so frequently, it can make it tough to incorporate a long-term marketing strategy. Agencies that blend creative, flexibility and have a deep understanding of the legalities of cannabis marketing could be a great partner. Like in the pharma space, agencies are able to keep up with regulations without losing a step on progressing with a campaign.   

Are there any brands that have an opportunity crossing over into marijuana industry? Is legality the only thing preventing them from embracing it?

Given the all-time high chatter about authenticity, having a true understanding and connection to this often stigmatized audience is key. Though legality is definitely a leading issue for brands to crossover, it really comes down to a brand’s ethos and reason to make that leap. There are several CPG, beauty and media brands that are ripe to enter the marijuana industry in some capacity, but without having the right messaging it can be a big miss and end up alienating potential consumers who feel like the brand is jumping on a bandwagon.

What are your thoughts on involving celebrities into the cannabis campaigns?

Many celebrities are already moving into this market or have been for a while such as Snoop Dogg, Whoopi Goldberg and Seth Rogan. Though many cannabis brands are trying to understand how to market given all the legal hurdles, celebrity endorsements or product lines are an effective way to spike notoriety and continue normalizing marijuana usage to skeptical audiences.   

Have you seen the cannabis marketing evolving since legalization first began in the US?  

Yes, cannabis marketing is bolder with its branding, media placements and activations — especially in larger cities. The industry as a whole is becoming more sophisticated with their design, packaging and outreach -- even with the shifting from the word ‘weed’ to cannabis.