Color Cannabis cooks up a way to keep edible users safe

A cookbook, designed by newcomer Smaller Agency, is a clever way into cannabis consumer homes.


While nearly every brand zigged toward digital this year, cannabis companies had little choice but to zag toward retail.

Most companies don’t face the same challenges when it comes to marketing online or on social media as pot brands do – thanks to restrictions on promotions bound in the Cannabis Act.

Weed producers, however, have been deemed essential businesses during pandemic-induced lockdowns, and have continued to lean on their retail outlets as a key avenue to communicate with consumers, says Smaller Agency’s Noah Barlow, who built his agency to primarily service brands in the cannabis and alcohol space.

The founder and CEO of the one-and-a-half-year-old Toronto agency adds that even though retail is a prominent channel for cannabis brands to communicate their offerings, shoppers are still ambivalent of spending ample time inside stores.

For many cannabis brands, this can create a challenge, as they rely on in-store bud-tenders to educate consumers about different strains and rely on pot education to drive trial and purchase. So in an effort to assuage shopper anxiety, while still offering an educational experience, Smaller Agency recently created a digital cookbook for client Color Cannabis.

“Add a Little Color to Your Cooking” is an Instagram-downloadable recipe book that features different strains, with instructions on how to make cannabis-infused butter or oil and incorporate it into meals and baked goods. The cookbook, which is also available in-store, is meant to help consumers safely create and consume edibles, as over-consumption is a concern among users.


“There wasn’t a lot of [cannabis] cooking discussion. I think a lot of people are curious about that,” Barlow says. “This is an education opportunity. This is something not a lot of people are talking about. But right now, especially during COVID, people are cooking like crazy. It was an easy opportunity for us to latch on to.”

He adds, “We sort of approached this from a retail-first perspective and looked at how we can work with bud-tenders… and give them tools to help educate consumers as they come into the retail environment, and how we can make those tools readily available online so that people can access them.”

Since launching in June 2019, Smaller Agency has worked with 14 different brands in the cannabis and alcohol categories, including Aloha, Starseed Medical, Peller Family Vineyards, Grolsch and Asahi. The shop also recently opened a second office in Kelowna in order to service its latest client Doseology Sciences, a wellness company with products that use the medicinal properties of mushrooms. The team will also use the office to work with other clients in Vancouver and Calgary, as well as local startups in the coming months.

To accommodate the growth Smaller Agency has experienced over the last year, it hired Paulina van Schaik as director of its Toronto operations, as well as Robbin Parcker as an art director in September.