Cannabis brand MedMen wants to kill the stoner stereotype

L.A.-based MedMen rides momentum of legalization, but faces hurdles

Published On
Apr 03, 2018

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MedMen is one of the largest cannabis retailers in California, which legalized recreational pot as of Jan. 1. Nicknamed the "Starbucks of cannabis," it's experiencing a wave of demand in the wake of the new law, with its West Hollywood store reporting a 480 percent revenue increase.

Riding that momentum, the company has introduced a new campaign, "Forget Stoner," which seeks to shatter marijuana-user stereotypes by featuring a variety of people--including a police officer, an ex-NFL player, a grandmother and a teacher--who use cannabis for reasons including, but not limited to, pain management.

The effort, created in-house, features out of home, billboards, wild postings, as well as new print publication Ember, a partnership with Paper Magazine. The quarterly will be devoted to cannabis culture and will feature open pot advocates, including tattoo artist Scott Campbell, model and singer-songwriter Kacy Hill and L.A. chef Neal Fraser of Redbird.

The campaign targets California and Nevada, which legalized recreational pot last year.

In getting the word out, MedMen, like other cannabis companies, faces a tide of resistance to placing ads in the media landscape and has been forced to become resourceful, including placing ads on the sides of trucks that deliver fruit and office supplies.

"It is absolutely challenging," says B.J. Carretta, MedMen's chief marketing officer. "When you can't really run Instagram or Facebook ads, that takes a big chunk out of your standard media plays."

MedMen made $2 million worth of media placements, covering more than 35 billboards as well as print buys in publications including OC Weekly, LA Magazine and San Diego Magazine. That's up from the $1.5 million spent on a campaign that in ran in January that used taglines like "Relax. It's legal."

It placed some outdoor ads via Outfront Media, but Carretta says MedMen has been rejected by Clear Channel Outdoor. The Los Angeles Times also declined its buy, he says.

Read more about the media challenges facing cannabis marketers.