Marketing takes on many forms today, and all relate to good storytelling. One of the great benefits of a working in cannabis are the creative innovators applying their skills to the category at all levels that I’ve met along the way. Coming from an agency myself, it was fascinating to meet a comedian in cannabis who came to the category by way of advertising and stand-up who’s developing his own approach to content.
Ardin, as he’s known, made his way from San Francisco to Hollywood to develop his own content ideas to work with brands and innovators to sidestep the advertising challenges that cannabis faces today. In 2016, he walked away from a 10-year career in marketing and today, he is a professional comedian, actor, and writer. He’s created his own monthly podcast, Coffee and Cannabis that focuses on the industry and is developing scripts and content for long-form shows. He’s written a series of 52 radio plays for a segment called, “High Time Story Time” (on Amazon) and has a popular late night show, The Night Space, on Mutiny Radio ()
He tells me, “I’m the stoner comedian…I call myself the motivated pothead. I’m never not working on something. I’m an outside the box thinker who’s just trying to help brands be the best they can be.” We sat down to chat about marketing, brands and audiences, and the state of the market in Los Angeles.
So we were talking about marketing cannabis, how its an evolving practice that often feels like its changing on a daily and weekly basis.
Yes, which to me means that brand identity is paramount and understanding your customer is extremely important;
I agree–it’s one of the mantras I re-iterate with brands, it begins with “who you are” and “what you do” and explaining what makes you “better, different or unique.”
When I was in San Francisco I was doing standup at Urban Farm, I would talk with all the vendors about their headaches–the biggest was differentiation from other brands, and “how do I get the right kind of clientele around my brand.”
I recently looked up advertising recommendations for Cannabis and the only ones of note were the Canadian government recommendations since they just legalized. There are some state regulations, but it’s also a lot of hearsay about what MIGHT be working and we’re doing it and seeing what works.
States are making it up as they go along, but larger companies like Facebook and Google are mixed on allowing brands to advertise, with lots of horror stories.
It’s all yet to be determined, which is why I focus on content ideas differently to get around the ever-changing rules and regulations surrounding advertising.
I’m looking to serve the brand to give them an identity and a piece of content that resonates with their market, in a fun way.
It seems like California and emerging markets are all struggling with different aspects of growth, the states and municipalities are all laying out rules and regulations that are often confusing to businesses and leave the consumer in limbo but driven by price alone not value or craft.
What I’m trying to attempt is something different—to make a big impact in a big way, on a proven concept but it’s still a dicey play. Creating content and investing in the content, not just a talking head, but coming up with fun show concepts, narrative stories for television as branded content and putting it thru non traditional places like Weed-Tube, YouTube. But also understand you can be a genuine player, this is a true player not just talk the talk or walk the walk.
I’m proposing making TV type media for brands the existing audience but finding new audiences.
Your gameshow, Dabs for Dollars in some ways reminds me of the way cigarette companies would sponsor shows in the 40’s and 50’s.
My approach is to start with one thing that I know. We’re talking “longer format” 6-15 min for a game show, 20 min for scripted content. A games show is a collection of 30 sec highlights, that’s over a span of half hour on TV with shorter segments for social media, etc.
I’m taking ten steps ahead, for the future. Everyone’s playing for the right now is playing catch up with nothing. There’s no proof that what’s happening now moves the mark. People are falling out of the sky, the market will mature and we need some better way to present ourselves.
Down the road–I’m preparing brands now for when the needle swings, so they’re being the thought leader in the space and everyone is catching up with them. To try things first, be three steps ahead, but also what can we do with this right now. Investing in good content is good content, you can chop it up and put it out now and test what works.
It’s a learning concept; in the meantime if you’re putting out entertaining content, you’re getting feedback, and can change direction and listen to your audience, see what resonates and do what audience suggests. You look new and innovative.
It’s definitely one way, one story to tell to the right consumer–people are coming into the market at all levels, it makes sense to try out lots of content ideas. I’m saying–Let’s make the investment now.
We’ve discussed that it’s the wildest out there, what challenges ahead do you see in the next six months in California?
It’s going to be interesting to keep up with,
A–we have a new governor, and we don’t know any new regulations that will come down for growing/distribution, testing, etc–be on the look-out for new regs.
B–West Hollywood has consumption lounges, so those started Jan 1st and will be interesting how it plays out, for the ability to have a place to go, network and consume cannabis. It’s also another place for people to do market research too so that’s interesting.
ABOUT: Ardin is a Los Angeles based stand-up comedian and writer. He is a performer, spokesperson, brand ambassador, motivational speaker, writer, and all-around funny guy. His work can be seen on his site
About Glenn Johnson
I am a Marketing, Branding and Communications Consultant w/ experience in high-touch luxury consumer marketing in the travel/hospitality, wine/spirits, fashion/beauty/grooming and Cannabis categories. My talents include Branding & Brand development, Business Building, Strategy and Brand Storytelling. I excel in working with Founders, startups, and small brands.
Marketing / Matters
A Cannabis Column with a Marketing & Branding point of view, including Q & A articles, “Conversations in Cannabis,” with industry innovators across the spectrum of start-ups, founders and brands doing business in the Cannabis category.
I can be contacted at glenn.johnson(at)gmail.com