Artisans on Fire—a small Las Vegas agency specializing in “grey market” industries like cannabis and gambling—finished last year on a high note, and had plans to keep the momentum going well into 2020.
Then the coronavirus hit. The shop’s largest client, the Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod, stopped work on a planned national campaign after it suspended operations when the state of Nevada declared a state of emergency earlier this month. “We lost 25 percent of our revenue literally within the first 24 hours of Las Vegas shutting down,” says Dustin Iannotti, the agency’s co-founder and creative director. “We were basically in survival mode.”
The agency—which had been posting 200 percent growth with plans to hire five employees in the coming weeks—was now facing layoffs and was forced to shed eight of its 20 employees. But like so many businesses trying to make the best of a bad situation, Artisans on Fire kept plugging away, and this week is rolling out a new campaign for another client, Thrive Cannabis Marketplace, a marijuana dispensary that it began working for in 2016.
While the state of emergency has shut down in-person dispensary visits, outlets can still run delivery services. So, Artisans on Fire’s campaign is aimed at driving more of that business for Thrive. The ad features close-ups of people’s eyes as they talk about the anxieties caused by the pandemic, from fear of getting sick to losing their jobs. Then the doorbell rings and a glove-wearing person drops off a bag of Pistola cannabis, a brand sold by Thrive. The implication is that pot can take a little of the edge off.