Tokyo Smoke sparks up a mass campaign

The brand's first-ever marketing push puts 10/17 (Canada's day to legalize cannabis) in the hero seat.
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What 17 things can you count on your 10 fingers to do on 10/17? While you ponder the riddle, Tokyo Smoke is offering up some suggestions in a new campaign that’s centered around October 17, otherwise known as the day the Canadian government gives the green light on, well, smoking the green.

In its first-ever mass advertising push, the design-focused cannabis brand is highlighting ways to make the most of the momentous “ten-seventeen” in a video, which acts as the “tentpole” for the campaign spanning digital and social, with an events track set to roll out this month.

The spot, produced by Common Good, with Tokyo Smoke’s in-house creative team on ideation, is a rolling montage of cannabis-appropriate euphemisms, each one paired with a carefully art directed visual of someone “smoking a bowl,” “rolling one,” “sparking one,” “getting together,” and so it goes. Twenty influencers make up the cast. Ten more will help the brand promote the video on their social channels.

With the government placing restrictions on how Canada’s brands can market old Mary Jane, Jennifer Stingle, director of brand management at Toyko Smoke says it decided to take a creative spin on the “do not overtly encourage cannabis use” regulations and make 10/17 the hero of its campaign, versus the brand or cannabis itself (aside for some cheeky pot lexicon).

“We believe that it’s going to be a monumental day in Canada’s history,” says Stingle. “We wanted to celebrate this by really challenging people to make the most of 10/17, and we interpreted that in a variety of ways.”

These interpretations are also found on a microsite, called Spendtenseventeen.com, where visitors can find trivia questions tied to the date (“Which Canadian artist has a song that is 10 minutes and 17 seconds long?” Hint: he’s no ordinary person.) There, the brand is also curating trippy playlists and recipes for “L-Day,” as well as posting relevant news and hosting giveaways. It’s also a place to find out about some of its more local community-focused events it has planned leading up to legalization.

“Our events are also very centred around education,” notes Stingle. “We also have a ‘Higher Learning’ series that we are doing all over Canada now. We have an event called ‘How to Roll a Joint’ where we use catnip. I would say that it’s the foundation to everything we do. And we go very broad in our education in terms of trying to cover as much as possible.”

Stingle says the video will be played and displayed across sites, from Google to theScore, targeting younger audiences. While the one-minute video will live on YouTube and the microsite, there will also be six-second bumper ads on social and digital. The media buy was conducted by Isobar, while the majority of the creative heavy-lifting was done by Stingle’s growing marketing team.

To date, Tokyo Smoke has about eight people on staff, and plans to build out the department as the market opens up. She’s also one of several traditional marketers who have jumped the CPG ship, previously hailing from the States where she worked on the Neutrogena business at Johnson & Johnson. The opportunity “to build a new industry” was also appealing to a handful of other recent hires (within the last five months, specifically), who recently came from marketing posts at companies like Lindt, Molson and General Mills.