Canadians that expect stoner references and cannabis culture in marijuana marketing will be disappointed. More than ever, the industry is trending towards “trusted and safe.”
The future of marijuana marketing in Canada looks classy. In fact, a widening demographic of cannabis users means the industry is separating itself from dated cannabis culture symbols and references. Don’t expect Cheech and Chong to be the frontman for your favorite strain. Instead, expect a clean and safe feel to branding. To this point, New Brunswick already revealed a chic, high-class design for their legal dispensaries. And even Snoop Dogg has adapted a classy approach to cannabis sales on his website Leafsbysnoop.com.
Leafsbysnoop.com gives us a glimpse into the future of marijuana marketing in Canada. The world’s largest weed icon does not appear in a single image on his site. To boot, there are no pictures of cannabis or cannabis culture icons. All edibles, buds, and concentrates are displayed in plain packaging. These choices are quite deliberate experts say.
According to Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen’s University, legalization has spurred a shift in promotional emphasis. Companies still want to appear friendly to stoners, but they are trending towards becoming a more professional and trusted source of quality product. Wong says,
“You won’t see all the buzzy puns and pot jokes that we’re used to.”
Cannabis Bills Ban Certain Types of Marijuana Advertising
Bill C-45 bans using real people or cartoon characters in the promotion of marijuana products. It also prohibits ads targeting youth. Any marketing that brands weed with a lifestyle of “glamour, recreation, excitement, vitality, risk or daring,” will also be forbidden. Jeff Swystun, president of Swystun Communications, has worked more than 20 years in branding and advertising. He says the restrictions are,
“Going to make branding and marketing a real challenge.”
Swystun goes on to say that he believes Canadian marijuana marketing will be like the “wild-west” for a while. Producers and distributors will test the waters to see how strict regulators are. As of now, medical growers are still prohibited from making claims for health benefits. And a real challenge exists to create regulatory standards for recreational versus medical cannabis.