Social Marketing campaign for THC Spiked Drink cleverly goes down the foundations for paid weed advertisements

A cannabis-infused drink called Cann may have created a new genre of ads – ASMR for the eyes – with a social campaign that featured helium balloons soaring in the sky, a man being tickled with ostrich feathers, and a woman running her hands through thick shaggy carpets.

The mood-enhancing contributions "allude to the benefits of the product," said Sarah Betts, Creative Director at Red Antler, with "visceral, dreamy images paired with mysterious copies."

One thing is missing from the purposely cryptic work: any mention of the brand name or shots of the product that is contrary to traditional marketing. But there is a good reason for the ruse.

The lack of branding means that Cann Media on Instagram could only buy themed under "The Warm & Fizzies," at a time when major social platforms still don't allow call-to-action ads for weed products.

According to Blair Ballard, the brand's chief strategy officer, Cann had to “hack” the digital advertising ecosystem to comply (weeds remain illegal nationwide).

The fastest growing cannabis category

Current rules "don't allow us to lead the way with the clean, crisp sales proposals that people are used to today," she said. "To create an ad that was compliant, we had to stay away from it and be extremely vague about what we were selling."

Instead, the brand and its agency tried to get their point across through "the warmest, fuzzy scenarios we can think of," Betts told Adweek. "The greatest creative challenge was to adequately illustrate the effects of cann."

Cann is a carbonated liquor without alcohol with 2 milligrams of THC per can. It fits into various popular trends like microdosing, dry January and New Years wellness resolutions.

The “Warm & Fizzies” campaign doesn't start by chance, as THC-infused drinks are booming. According to Fortune Business Insights, beverages make up the fastest growing category in cannabis, valued at an estimated $ 8 billion worldwide by 2027.

In California alone, the consumables segment, which includes beverages and groceries, is expected to grow 140% over the next five years, according to BDSA.

Cann is based in Los Angeles. The startup sold more than 2 million cans of its “Social Tonic” in 2020 and competes with brands such as Keef, Calexo, Wunder, Mad Lilly, Artet and House of Saka, who offer healthier, low-calorie and hangover-free products as alternatives to cocktails .

And the field keeps getting full. Heavyweights in the traditional spirits sector are busy building alliances for THC-laced products. Pabst Labs debuted weed-infused seltzer under a licensing deal with old PBR brand in California, and Heineken's Lagunitas Brewing Co. and concentrate company AbsoluteXtracts are behind the hot-selling hi-fi hops.

(The approach) allowed us to focus entirely on the feeling and build justice for it

Lindsay Brillson, Executive Creative Director of Red Antler

(The approach) allowed us to focus entirely on the feeling and build justice for it

The US deals follow similar steps in Canada. In that country, Anheuser Busch InBev has partnered with Tilray, and Constellation Brands and Canopy Growth have prevailed with multiple infusion beverage launches in 2020.

Many pharmacy owners, who have seen sales growth recently, have put more real estate and energy into promoting infused beverages. Chris Lane, CMO at Airfield Supply Co. in the San Francisco area, opened a month-long pop-up shop with Cann, which fits in with the retailer's wellness focus in January.

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