Molson Coors’ cannabis co picks Rethink as AOR

The agency is working with Truss on developing a portfolio of beverage brands ahead of legalization this fall.

Truss  a joint venture from brewing giant Molson Coors and licensed cannabis producer Hexo to develop and sell cannabis-infused beverages  has picked Rethink as its agency of record.

Rethink’s assignment will cover strategy, design and creative oversight for Truss’ entire portfolio of beverages, with first work expected to hit the market in the fall, when cannabis-infused beverages and edibles are expected to be legalized for retail sale in Canada.

Several things – such as Truss’ product assortment, its brand positioning and how it will go to market amid strict advertising regulations – is still being developed, says Lori Hatcher, chief marketing officer for Truss. Hatcher does, however, point to the company’s name – based on the architectural feature – as a guiding principle, with Truss seeing itself as “building the foundation” for cannabis beverages.

“Imagine somebody came to you years ago and said you had access to wheat for the first time,” adds Sean McDonald, managing partner and head of strategy at Rethink. “You can try to make cereal and bread and go in every single direction. Or you can say, ‘There is something I know how to do, and I’m going to use that knowledge to make one thing.’ That’s what Truss is doing. They have chosen a very specific lane, in which they can be specialists and be excellent in an area where everyone else is generalist. They are focused on a format and series of products… and developing brands that are going to be really relevant, differentiated and exciting.”

While Rethink already works with Molson Coors across its portfolio of beer brands, the agency was selected following a review involving multiple agencies, according to Hatcher. She did say, however, that Rethink’s quality of work on Molson Coors’ brands over the years was a factor in its selection, as was its shared values and deep understanding of consumers and culture. The work is being led out of Rethink’s Toronto office, but will be contributed to by staff in Montreal and Vancouver.

Last summer, Molson Coors announced that it had partnered with Quebec-based licensed producer Hexo (then known as Hydropothecary) to create a joint venture pursuing cannabis-infused beverages. The transaction forming the joint venture closed in the fall, when the name Truss was announced, and named Brett Vye, chief commercial and strategy officer of Molson Coors’ international divisio, as its CEO. Hatcher joined Truss earlier this year, having previously been chief marketing officer at fintech company Stack, and was on the marketing team at Canada Goose prior to that.

Cannabis infused food and beverages are an area that’s seeing a great deal of activity from companies large and small looking to transfer their expertise in food to reach recreational consumers with a new product, especially those adverse to current consumption methods like smoking. For beer companies in particular, it is an opportunity to diversify their portfolios with products outside of alcohol.