Since cannabis became kinda mostly depends where you are legal, companies have been looking to find celebrities to brand and endorse their products, generally to limited success, especially as Canadian regulators have banned marketing that includes endorsements or celebrity names.
Early on, Canopy (WEED.T) announced a deal with Snoop Dogg, seen as a big win at the time. But that was then. Today, the LeafsBySnoop.com website is down, there’s no sign of it on the Tweed website though Google still points potential customers there, and though the strains in question are available for sale, what was once this:
Has now become this barely recognizable vaguely poison-looking product with a logo about 90% smaller than the accompanying warning.:
If you squint, you can see an ‘LbS’, which is hardly the rousing celebrity lure it was originally hoped for.
The Trailer Park Boys did a deal with Organigram (OGI.V) for Trailer Park Buds in 2016, though I’ve yet to see any commercial lift from the deal. The comedy trio’s Freedom 35 beer success certainly dwarfs the weed side.
Here’s what a celebrity endorsed adult product should look like:
And though the official Trailer Park Buds says this on it’s website:
MEET THE BUDS:
Super Bling Cowboy, Swayze Sativa and Itodaso Indica Trailer Park Buds cannabis pre-rolls will be available at Government licensed retail establishments in 2018.
I don’t see any evidence of that on any govt website I’ve looked at. Or on Organigram’s. In fact, I couldn’t find any evidence of a product tied to this deal being currently available at all.
The Tragically Hip did a deal with one-time poison pill NewStrike (HIP.C) (which has still never bothered to change over from it’s old mining shell name) back in the day, which quickly moved away from an all-star endorsement deal to an odd investor-hybrid where the company has named a few strains after old Hip songs (which they probably could have done without the deal in place) and used the band’s name as their ticker symbol..
Invictus MD Strategies (IMH.V), a long time Equity.Guru client, may get the award for the worst celebrity deal. In signing long time anti-marijuana zealot and Kiss musical icon Gene Simmons on as a corporate spokesperson, the company gave up a bunch of shares and re-tickered themselves from IMH to GENE, but have benefited in no perceivable way from the arrangement other than in being able to bring Simmons to the occasional event.
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“Financial Buzz Reporter @crystalcarsonreport is here with Chief Executive Officer of Invictus MD Strategies Corp. (OTCQX: $IVITF) (TSX-V: $GENE) George E. Kveton & #Kiss’ @genesimmons at Marijuana Business Daily MJBizCon in Las Vegas Convention Center” – #InvictusMD, $IVITF, $GENE, #OTCQX, #TSX, #GeorgeKveton, #Kiss #GeneSimmons, #MJBizCon2018, #MJBizCon, #Cannabis, #MedicalCannabis, – For more information, please visit: @financialbuzz
Jeez, Gene, could you look any less interested?
Hip hop star Drake hasn’t endorsed any company, but his producer, Noah “40” Shebib, who has multiple sclerosis, appears to be behind a shadowy company called BLLRDR that appears to be involved with the Afghani Bullrider strain, which is tough to find and, according to 40, the only thing that helps him with his affliction.
Visitors to the website are asked to give their email address but told little else.
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No idea if this is a real business, a medical crusade, or just a personal project to be shared among friends, but it’s one step away from one of the biggest musical stars of our time, so worth noting.
SO ARE ALL CELEBRITY WEED DEALS CRAP?
I’m not going to say that, but certainly in Canada they’re of negligible importance past the initial wave of media interviews announcing a deal. Regulatory barriers just make it nigh impossible to get any benefit out of a celebrity, their name, their images, or even variations of their name (a ‘Justin Trudope’ strain put out by Delta9 was quickly reconsidered)
We just released one of our most popular strains Afghani Kush and launched a new Indica dominant hybrid called Justin Trudope. pic.twitter.com/i0wDDghMOs
— Delta 9 Bio-Tech (@Delta9BioTech) January 16, 2018
But in America, there’s no such restrictions on marketing cannabis with a popular name.
I know from the widow of my old friend Hunter S. Thompson that she’s had a boatload of offers to use The Doc’s name and Gonzo branding to sell weed, and has refused them all to date. Tommy Chong, of the 1970’s comedy duo Cheech and Chong, has been earning dough selling his own products at Chong’s Choice, and Snoop has launched a multi-million dollar weed fund to encourage new plays in his home country.
But there are only a few celebrities that have a natural association with cannabis that might compel someone to buy a given product.
Willie Nelson (check, but to limited success), Seth Rogen and James Franco (not yet), and Clerks/Mallrats/Chasing Amy/Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back movie stars Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes.
American cannabis producer Chemesis (CSI.C) has penned a deal to get one very funny man onto their line of cannabis products.
Famed director, comic book writer, and Vancouver Film School alum, Kevin Smith, along with his longtime on-screen companion Jason Mewes, have signed a deal that will bring their alter-egos – Jay & Silent Bob – into the US’ legal(ish) cannabis market.
Chemesis International, which is listed on the Canadian Stock Exchange but operates a 20,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility in California, announced the new partnership with Smith at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas last week. Smith made his own reveal over Instagram.
“Jay and Silent Bob are selling weed in real life!” he wrote, “This January Jay and Silent Bob’s Private Stash debuts in every weed-legal state and every weed-legal store they can lean against.”
Canada’s Beleave (BE.C) did their own local deal with Smith for the same sort of endorsement and branding but, as discussed, it turned out to be tough for them to make it work up north.
From December 2017:
A Hamilton based medical marijuana company has just signed a deal with a pair of Hollywood cult figures. Beleave is announcing it has entered into a brand licensing deal with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes, better known on screen as Jay and Silent Bob.
The company says with help from the pair they will develop various strains of pot geared to the recreational market when cannabis is legalized next July.
But Chemesis, which operates out of California, and is doing great business white labeling extractions for other brands, has a large dispensary distribution network, and which is planning an aggressive growth strategy, sees their Jay and Silent Bob deal as being a big one, with their latest film due for release later in 2019.
“We’ve been looking to partner with people who have a lot of leverage and are very prominent in the cannabis community,” said Ranbir Kalan, from Chemesis’ Investor Relations. “He’s a great filmmaker, he comes with a great legacy behind him, so this partnership brings great credibility in being a high-quality supplier of cannabis products.
“We didn’t see a downside to it.”
Useless trivia fact: I used to work for Smith, back in the days shortly after he made Clerks, and was part of the team that helped put together the comic book store and merchandise company, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, which exists to this day and has since been chronicled by the AMC cable TV series Comic Book Men. It was 20 years ago, and the old crew have put on a few pounds in the years since, but the audience Smith brings has never shrunk.
Smith’s audience has always been into weed, as have his characters (Jay and Silent Bob’s superhero form is known as ‘Bluntman and Chronic,’) but it was only recently Smith made a very public switch from a religious (literally) non-user to a massive fan of the chronic.
Since then, and since a recent heart issue tossed him a curve ball, he’s taken it up as a passion, and is one of what I’d consider the top three best endorsement targets in the world today.
Chemsis has a lot going on outside of endorsements, and in a recent interview we did for the Equity.Guru podcast, we caught up with CEO, Edgar Montero, and got the low down:
— Chris Parry
FULL DISCLOSURE: Chemesis and Invictus MD Strategies are Equity.Guru marketing clients