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Mainstream Brands Indirectly Cashing In On Cannabis

By Tricia Cleppe, Senior Manager, Marketing and Client Support of New Frontier Data

The cannabis industry is spawning countless articles about legal cannabis moving into the social mainstream in direct ways, be it venture capital funds welcoming investment opportunity in the space, to all manner of cannabis startups, to popular mainstream conferences and events incorporating cannabis content, and even the rise of cannabis-friendly entertainment programming.

What goes less noticed perhaps is how some mainstream brands (some more subtly than others) are indirectly marketing to cannabis consumers. This month’s most popularly recognized holiday of the cannabis community, on 4/20, provided numerous examples of mainstream brands marketing toward the holiday indirectly, thereby cashing in from cannabis consumers without assuming the attendant risks of more directly aligning with the burgeoning legal market.

Some marketing examples from this month include:

  • Nike:

Nike SB, the skateboarding line of Nike, one of the most popular brands in the world, released their “Intergalactic” sneaker on 4/20. Nike SB has been historically more willing to align themselves with cannabis than their parent company. This isn’t the first time that Nike SB released a cannabis-themed sneaker on 4/20; last year they released a hemp version of their famous “Dunk Low” sneaker.

  • Lyft:

At New Frontier Data’s Denver office, we saw the ridesharing behemoth Lyft partner with each MassRoots (one of the largest social media platforms for cannabis consumers), the Marijuana Industry Group, and the Colorado Department of Transportation to provide a reported 3,000 safe, specially discounted rides throughout the city that day.

  • Totino’s Pizza Rolls:

Also in Denver, Totino’s Pizza Rolls sponsored a large event at Red Rocks Amphitheater called “420 On The Rocks", where they gave away free pizza rolls and promoted the hashtag #BetterWhenBaked.

  • Pop Chips:

In a national campaign, the popular brand of low-calorie, snack food used Snapchat filters to tease 4/20 revelers with encouragement to “pack a bowl…with chips.”

It is undeniable that cannabis is moving from the margins to the mainstream. Yet, so long as cannabis remains classified on the federal level as a Schedule I controlled substance, brands which directly align with the cannabis industry and reform movement do so with some level of risk, albeit now more benignly than at any other time in modern U.S. history.

Nevertheless, these mainstream brands are proof positive that there is ever more increasing appeal to the industry and legalization movement, and that more conversations are being had about how best to speak to cannabis consumers and appeal to their lifestyles. Accordingly, New Frontier Data is actively engaged in projects focusing on gathering and analyzing the latest trends in consumer data, for pending release across our content channels. 


Tricia Cleppe, New Frontier Data Senior Manager, Marketing and Client Relations

Tricia Cleppe

Tricia Cleppe is the Senior Manager of Marketing & Client Relations for New Frontier Data. Previously, Cleppe worked as a digital marketer for a wide array of clients, including non-profit organizations within the cannabis industry.  Cleppe graduated with a degree in Advertising from the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.

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