The ‘Starbucks of weed’ ramps up marketing as legalization of recreational usage grows
This week, cannabis retailer MedMen puts its signature offering front and center in its largest marketing push to date.
The 4 million dollar campaign includes 36 billboard and out of home ads throughout Southern California boldly showcasing the word “cannabis” against vibrant photography. Each one depicts various locations throughout SoCal with different “characters”–a surfer, a roller skater, a body builder, a bike rider and more–but their faces are intentionally out of frame.
With the faceless subjects, the new campaign is a departure from the brand’s effort from earlier this year, “Forget Stoner,” which sought to shatter weed-smoker stereotypes by featuring real cannabis smokers like a police officer, an ex-NFL player, a grandmother and a teacher. The work is the first to debut under MedMen’s new CMO David Dancer, who formerly served as EVP, head of marketing at Teleflora with previous stints at Visa, Charles Schwab and American Express.
The strategy behind the new campaign is to allow “consumers to picture themselves in any of these stories,” Dancer explains. It’s also meant to highlight the fact that MedMen, which has been referred to as the “Starbucks” or “Apple store” for weed, isn’t that seedy shop tucked away in the corner. Rather, it can be found in the area’s “iconic” shopping districts, Dancer says. The ads also name the various locations of MedMen stores–including Beverly Hills, West L.A., LAX and Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach. “We want it to be clear to our current and future customers that we are the best cannabis retailer and we are located in the best neighborhoods. This is just another step in our mission to reframe the imagery and conversation surrounding cannabis culture.”
The push coincides with MedMen’s plans to expand its retail footprint as legalization of recreational usage grows. Wall Street investment firm Cowen projects the cannabis market to see $75 billion in annual sales by 2030.
When Ad Age covered MedMen’s last campaign earlier this year, one of the biggest struggles for the marketer was media placement. The company maintains its “creative” approach to media–it just debuted the second issue of EMBER, a magazine covering cannabis culture. But Dancer says the landscape is becoming more forgiving. “More and more media outlets are getting comfortable with taking our ad dollars,” he says. The company has “more billboards in better positions” with this push–36 billboards over the 24 in the “Forget Stoner” campaign. He adds that MedMen is now the only cannabis advertiser on Sirius XM and the brand also broke onto terrestrial radio on San Diego’s alternative radio station 91X.
This article was written by Ann-Christine Diaz and first appeared on Adage.