Typically, cartoon characters are forbidden territory for cannabis companies and branding, but the adult-oriented cult favorite Heavy Metal has managed to find a way.
Regulators fear that allowing cartoons to be used in cannabis marketing will attract children to the products. But Heavy Metal has always been clearly targeted to an adult audience, helping it pave the way to combine science fiction, entertainment, and art with cannabis through a partnership with a Massachusetts company.
The original Heavy Metal film came out in 1981 and was adapted from the Heavy Metal magazines which began publication in the 1970s. The magazine featured artwork from famous fantasy illustrators such as Frank Frazetta and H.R. Giger.
Like the magazine, the film features a great deal of graphic violence, sexuality, and nudity – and has long had to navigate content restrictions.
Tommy Corriale who owns the license for Heavy Metal, recently spoke with Green Market Report about the new venture.
“Heavy Metal is an adult-oriented brand. Across all of its verticals, it will continue to be that,” Corriale said. “The current management team that has just recently taken the reins is excited about building additional kinds of content and products in adult-oriented spaces. So cannabis was a natural fit, and Berkshire Roots actually approached us. James had the idea of heavy metal being a brand that would cut through for a number of reasons.”
Old School Appeal
Corriale is working with Massachusetts dispensary Berkshire Roots to launch Heavy Metal Cannabis on April 1. The product will be available in other stores with plans to expand into other legal states. Berkshire Roots CEO James Winokur also took time to talk with Green Market Report.
Winkour highlighted that even though the movie and the cannabis will be targeted at adults, there will still be steps taken to ensure that is the audience the content reaches.
“As a long-term licensee in Massachusetts, we know all the packaging rules or marketing rules,” Winokur said. “One of the things that we did when we were working with Heavy Metal is figure out that we can have this really great logo on the outside of the packaging, we can have very subtle imagery on the outside, and then play with what goes on on the inside of the packaging that only someone 21 plus is going to be opening.
“You know, this isn’t Snoopy or Mickey Mouse, and that’s what states are generally concerned about is having some image that looks like that,” he added.
Corriale can see opportunities for crossover between the cannabis products and storylines for the magazine, as well, with interactive experiences developing specific artwork, characters, and storylines that customers could access. For example, a QR code could be included within the packaging that could unlock special artwork.
For the Heavy Metal Cannabis brand, Berkshire Roots said it will introduce new flower strains the company hasn’t previously sold.
“I’ve seen a lot of different branding opportunities,” Winokur said. “The name can be interesting, the packaging could be interesting, but what’s inside that has to be really good.”
Welcome to the Cannaverse
Berkshire Roots created five “collections” for the initial launch, collectively called the Cannaverse. Each collection will be associated with certain product types and draw from the library of stories and characters in the “Metalverse”:
- 1981: Drawing from the old-school movie and delivering old-school products.
- Never Never: The Peter Pan-style fantasy stories will be the home for an elevated flower experience.
- Taarna: Vape cart and disposable vapes that pair nicely with the sword-wielding, take no prisoners character.
- Cold Dead War: The zombie apocalypse stories make for a great connection to face-melting concentrates.
- Dark Wing: The sci-fi based collection will include some “out there” palate-challenging edibles.
Where the Metalverse meets the Cannaverse is definitely a different approach to cannabis marketing and could spark more 1970s and 1980s nostalgia in the industry.