Weed's Most & Least Successful Marketing Moments

Five brands share their hard-won advice.

The Broccoli Report 
Friday, July 2, 2021
Time to read: 8 minutes, 55 seconds. 1786 words.

What Really Made Us Money: Five brands’ best and worst marketing calls.

Truly great marketing can come from careful, precision planning, and it can also come from a stroke of stoned luck. Sometimes a campaign is positioned for greatness, only to wither in front of the wrong demographic. And then there is the added complication of executing a marketing initiative as a cannabis brand. Between crackdowns on SMS text marketing, account freezes on Facebook-owned platforms when brands promote products or try to open shops, and hypersensitivity to minors seeing images of cannabis-related products, it’s difficult to get a campaign to connect with its intended audience. Our ability to engage with customers outside of brick-and-mortar shops is directly tied to the progress of laws and societal norms. While those regulations and comfort levels shift, every single marketing expense can feel like a risky stab in the dark. 

In today’s lightning roundtable of sorts, five brands across the THC, CBD, and accessory spectrums answer two simple questions: What was the single marketing moment that was the most worthwhile for your brand? And, what campaign just didn’t land?

Spoiler: This is no cheat sheet. Every brand is, of course, very different, and the best campaigns usually feel tailor-made for the brand in question. But through their marketing highs and lows, each brand learned something unique about honing their approach, and hopefully, you can, too. 


Brett Heyman, founder of fashion + cannabis/CBD brand Flower by Edie Parker.

Our most successful campaign messaged the launch of our eighth jars, which coincided with Valentine's Day. It was a completely organic and homegrown community gifting of Valentine's Day teddy bears stuffed with weed.

What was your goal for this effort?
Like every campaign, our main goal is to create brand awareness. But this one was also specifically driving customers to the Artist Tree, a dispensary carrying our new cannabis product.

How much did it cost?
The cost was 20 teddy bears; time to slice, stuff, and sew them up; and, of course, product. :)

Was it precisely strategic? 
We create opportunities where we can, so Valentine's Day felt like an organic tie-in to a February launch.

What was the outcome?
Increased engagement across social; web traffic; and an increase in customers inquiring about us at the Artist Tree, where they saw strong sales during the activation.

What was your least effective marketing moment? 
We did a gift for our CBD launch that had a lot of components: a fake nightstand, condoms, sleep mask, tissues, etc., and the product got lost in the noise. We've learned over time—especially with gifts—the simpler, the better. 

Felicity Chen, founder of CBD edible brand Potli 

During Cyber Monday, we bundled our top-selling SKUs into discounted sets of three. By enabling shoppers to buy more to save, our customers became our evangelists, sharing Potli with friends as a gift and through word of mouth because they had stock on hand to share.

What was your goal? 
To sear into our customers’ minds that our ingredients are meant to be ritualized and used daily. 

We provided a small discount to customers that took advantage of the offer.

Precisely strategic? 
We launched it with the intention of it lasting through Cyber Monday. However, we've kept it on our site because it was such a successful campaign! At that time—during the pandemic—we were willing to try anything. We offered the same discount on our subscription model, and it hit differently; definitely did not see the same success as bundling.

This drove our average order value up and made the Dream Honey our top-selling product (25% of historical sales) the first month into launch! November and December 2020 were our best two months yet, online.

Least effective marketing moment? 
Trade shows that I won't name, but you can slide into my DMs to ask. ;)

Angela Mou, founder of Elevate Jane.

When we launched our first Elevate Jane product—our bong named Mimi—my photographer friend was transitioning into video and asked if I wanted to be one of her first clients. Since she was brand new to video, she just wanted to trade for a few pipes from our shop. There happened to be some perfect natural light coming in from the skylight, and we took a quick, ten-second clip of me hitting the bong on her iPhone. Then, we shot and edited for a few hours with her new, "real" camera. Ultimately, we scrapped the edited video, and I posted the iPhone clip.

What was your goal?
I thought a little video would be the perfect introduction to Mimi—I wanted to depict the flow of smoke from sparking the bowl to when it rises, and you inhale.

A couple hundred dollars worth of product from our shop. 

Precisely strategic?
Yes and no. The intention was strategic, but the outcome ultimately was not. 

It did incredibly well—our first video to hit over 10k views! We launched the product with this video, and we sold out of our (small) first run within days. Our video was shared hundreds of times, giving us incredible exposure. 

Least effective marketing moment? 
Typically, the cost of having a table or small booth at an event was around $100-150 (in 2018-ish), but this one event, in particular, was $500. We had heard good things, so we gave it a shot. It ended up being a total flop, but we learned lessons about what kind of events we wanted to be at and where we didn't want to spend our effort and marketing dollars. 

Lex Corwin, founder of licensed California farm/brand Stone Road.

We've found we get the most traction from billboards and other outdoor advertising, especially when we create a local tie with a prominent store or dispensary in the area. For example, we offer stores who order 10k on their first Stone Road order the opportunity to be featured on a co-branded billboard based on that initial buy. It's not so much that people see the billboard and go to that store, specifically, but it gives Stone Road legitimacy in that people recognize the brand more easily when tied to a local shop.

What was your goal?
To have as many eyeballs on the brand as possible and to inspire some fat orders!

Somewhere between $2.5-7k a billboard.

Precisely strategic?
Yes. We target specific areas based on the demographics of those locales and make sure to tie the billboard content to those demos for maximum impact. 

We gained a lot of traction in both sales and brand followers, locking in new stores/accounts and a significant number of new Instagram followers. 

Least effective marketing moment? 
If I had to pick one, it'd probably be a campaign with a prominent cannabis media outlet (that will remain unnamed). We spent about $4k, and all we got were 300 random Instagram followers from India asking if we could ship internationally, lol. 

Luke Anderson, co-founder of licensed cannabis beverage company Cann.

Our most effective marketing moment has been our 2021 Pride campaign. We partnered with Marko Monroe (Lizzo's stylist, House of Avalon) and iconic drag queens Symone, Gigi Goode, and Rosy Thorn on a coordinated digital and out-of-home (OOH) marketing moment covering Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.

What was your goal?
Raise awareness about our brand while showing people what we're all about as a queer-founded company. We reimagined the Fanta Girls as drag queens to poke fun at patriarchal culture and subvert the beverage industry's unfortunate habit of objectifying women for sales.

All in, the multistate campaign cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. We are grateful that we had retail partners (Emjay, MedMen, Apothecarium, Sava, Rise) who pitched in on co-branded moments to make it more manageable for us as a small company still charting our path toward profitability.

Precisely strategic?
Very. The intention was to create a campaign that was entirely executed end-to-end by queer people, elevating queer artists during a month where corporate Pride campaigns tokenize the LGBTQ+ community. There were a few lucky stabs, like asking Vincint if he would make a Cameo during one of the bigger moments in his music career.

On track for our best month ever by 150%—and thoughtful media coverage about the queer creatives we partnered with. 

Least effective marketing moment? 
For about the exact same cost in 2018, we sponsored a private party at Coachella. Really, it was just a bunch of drunk 22-year-olds complaining that our product had no booze in it or wondering if it was kombucha. Got one photo with Lisa Rinna, but otherwise, it was a total wash.


Thank you to all these brands for their contributions and candor!

Happy weekend and happy ROIs to all,
Lauren Yoshiko