In 2018, Cannabis retailer MedMen has ramped up its marketing efforts, debuting two campaigns as well as its own glossy magazine, Ember. Now, the publication has expanded to become a digital content platform.
The move builds on the brand’s efforts to destigmatize marijuana and bring it into the mainstream as legalization of recreational use expands across the country. MedMen’s campaigns, for example, have attempted to “kill” the stoner stereotype by highlighting unexpected pot users, like a police officer, entrepreneur and designer, while in August it debuted its biggest marketing effort to date, the $4 million dollar campaign that put the word “Cannabis” front and center in stylish ads that depicted faceless individuals enjoying themselves in metropolitan hotspots like L.A.’s Beverly Hills or Venice Beach while carrying the brand’s bright red shopping tote.
Ember, which MedMen created in partnership with ENTtech Media Group, the company founded by Conde Nast and Advanstar Fashion Group publishing vet Tom Florio, Drew Elliott, chief creative officer of Paper Communiations and XRM Media, is essentially a stylish sponsored content play. It features stories that celebrate cannabis but also happen to highlight wares sold at MedMen. 40,000 copies of the print publication have been distributed in stores and at Barnes & Noble, at the price of $5. The new digital platform is currently home to a selection of features that have graced the pages of Ember in print and also serves as a portal for more timely and practical news. Stories have included features on tattoo artist Scott Campbell, who founded Beboe, a high-end brand of cannabis vape pens and pastilles and Los Angeles chef Neal Fraser, who curates his multi-course creations with cannabis flights. The first issue also had a piece on the death of the term “stoner,” expanding on the idea from the MedMen campaign. Online, there are more info-based pieces that break down the basics on cannabis laws in California and New York and an explainer, “What are cannabinoids?”
Ember’s third print issue drops on Monday and all the articles will feature online as well. It looks at the holidays through a cannabis-tinged lens, with gift guides, stories on how to deal with seasonal stress as well as informative how-tos like a piece on how to get a medical marijuana card.
MedMen CMO David Dancer says expanding into digital content is just a logical step in the brand’s marketing efforts. At launch, more than 50% of the Ember online content is original. Dancer says, however, that Ember becoming a full-fledged content platform is “phases out” and ultimately, the goal will be to introduce 6-10 original pieces weekly. “This will allow us to comment and be a part of things that are happening today--like what did we learn from the midterms, what’s going on in this state, what’s new in health and wellness,” he says.