Out of Black Market into Sunlight, Marijuana Lights up Minds of Marketing Mavens

Friday, May 16, 2014
Marijuana trimming machine, the Triminator (photo: YouTube)

Legalized marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational use, has got a lot of people in the marketing world conceiving of ways to make a buck off a fast-growing industry.


On the production side of the business, there are companies offering machinery that can transition the growing and processing of marijuana plants into a mechanized state of mass production.


Instead of trimming plants by hand, which most growers do, a pot business can purchase mechanical trimmers from Growers House in Arizona. The equipment ranges from products that resemble salad spinners to the industrial-sized Triminator, which is expensive (nearly $18,000) but can process 18 pounds of cannabis in an hour.


Those with serious amounts of cash to invest, like former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively, have said they wanted to establish their own brand of marijuana. 


Big corporations know the importance of branding, and some very successful businesses may soon set up pot subsidiaries because they can see a lucrative future for the industry.


“I can see Anheuser-Busch getting involved in this. I heard rumors of this over a year ago—that they would probably get in there,” Greg Wagner, a former advertising executive who now teaches at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, told CBS Moneywatch.


“I wouldn’t doubt in five years we’re going to see a Super Bowl commercial,” Wagner said. “I think it’s coming, and maybe I’m wrong, or maybe it will be two years! But I could see a 60-second commercial featuring marijuana.”


Others looking to cash in include food producers who understand the dietary needs of those who get stoned. Take Taco Bell, for instance. Its ad campaign to young people says they can always “run for the border” to satisfy their “late night munchies.”


Fried food entrepreneurs really stand to make money off the “stoner” crowd, according to Marian Salzman at Forbes. She cites people like Jason Hairston, creator of the successful Nugget Spot in New York City, which serves fried nuggets of chicken, pork, fish, cheese and more.


“Turns out Hairston,” she writes, “has a lot of company in making high-end stoner food. The list includes single-focus restaurants specializing in biscuits, pudding, bacon, cheese fries and burgers with doughnuts for buns. While many of them are in bar-heavy neighborhoods, their target demographic might very well have a different drug of choice.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The Bud Light-ification of Bud (by Annie Lowrey, New York Times)

 Ad Agencies Prepare for the Legal Marijuana Market (by Bruce Kennedy, CBS News)

Is Pot-Related Marketing The Next Big Gold Rush? (by Marian Salzman, Forbes)

As Legal Marijuana Spreads, Will Big Business Muscle Out Small Providers? (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Colorado High on Marijuana Revenue—Billion-Dollar Industry to Bring State More Than $100 Million in Annual Taxes (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Law Enforcement Officers and DEA Agents Jump Ship to Consult Marijuana Industry (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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