Cannabis brands celebrate 50 years of 4/20

From in-store marketing and staff raises to NFTs and art that conveys smell, maturing brands found a lot of ways to mark the date.

San-Rafael-420Aurora Cannabis owns and operates San Rafael ’71, a name derived from the California town and school buds who coined the term and spawned a worldwide movement 50 years ago in 1971.

The brand is highlighting the anniversary with a limited-edition “Rockstar” pre-roll, featuring a mix of popular strains with a high THC potency.

“Our core consumer knows their weed, and is quite interested in this particular strain and high potency,” says Gérald Alvoët, VP, brand and marketing for San Rafael ’71.

To mark the occasion, the brand is rolling out trade assets that would not be out of place for a typical CPG brand: posters, tent cards, floor decals, celebration cards and more throughout the month of April. It’s also rewarding fans with a giveaway including branded hats, t-shirts and frisbees.

San-Rafael-420-image“We are dedicated to the celebration of 420,” Alvoët says of the brand, which is built around reverence for the cannabis connoisseurs of the 70s. Pre-rolls anchors the brand in that era, says Alvoët, adding that the format remains 80% of its business.

With other product formats taking root, he says San Rafael ’71 is also going to deliver on concentrates with two new products in that category it’s doubling down on, being released in the upcoming months, part of its premium focus.

Alvoët maintains in-store experience is “absolutely critical,” in support of Rockstar Pre-rolls.  At Aurora, it’s leveraging what works in the CPG space, he says, bringing more of that space’s best practices, including category management, shelf layouts, merchandising practises and messaging and working to elevate the shopping experience.

“We are still in the early stages, as the retail experience is different whether it’s a chain or independent store,” Alvoët says. It’s looking at more traditional shopper activations, as consumers can’t wholly rely on budtenders, with a segment still reluctant to engage with them and more interested in going their own way.

Having fun with Non-Fungible Tokens

With cannabis gradually working its way into the mainstream in the years following legalization, other brands are also stepping up their marketing efforts around 4/20.

For its part, Fire & Flower has created a piece of digital art in honour of 420, turning an NFT into a “Non-Fungible Toke.”

The cannabis brand, in collaboration with artist Amr Elkouedy and Toronto agency Angry Butterfly, has created an original piece of contemporary art – a looping billow of multi-coloured smoke encased in glass, similar to display cases found in galleries or museums.

The resulting piece is being sold as an NFT, and all the proceed will be donated to food rescue charitable organization, Second Harvest. Fire & Flower is also purchasing a carbon offset and help neutralize the carbon footprint of the blockchain technology.

And of course, the bidding starts at $4.20 and is closing at 4:20 p.m. today.

WeedMD is “Big on Terps”

And as the category matures, so too do the product features that brands are able to differentiate around. One of those that is increasing in popularity along with consumer awareness are terpenoids, the aromatic organic compounds produced in the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plan, giving each strain its distinctive smell and flavour.

To promote its Color brand, WeedMD and digital agency Abacus have created “Big On Terps,” a social media campaign on Twitter and Snapchat inspired by the brand’s “big flavour and aroma” in an effort to make it Color’s defining characteristic.

Nikki Thomas, senior marketing manager at Color Cannabis and WeedMD, says the brand wants to convey that opening a Color pouch releases a bouquet of aromas to connect it to “an elevated cannabis experience.” To that end, Abacus’ art department came up with a way to showcase that experience, with landscapes and environments enveloped by larger-than-life visuals of individual flavours, like fruits and berries.


Canopy Growth is giving its workers an additional 4:20 in pay

Finally, like at most other retailers, staff at cannabis stores have had to work in extraordinary conditions over the last year. To show its appreciation for Tweed workers, parent company Canopy Growth is giving an additional 4 hours and 20 mins in pay for each of its nearly 200 store employee across Canada.

In addition to this, each Tweed store in Canada will be making a $420 donation to a charity of their choice to celebrate the communities in which they operate.