It’s a well-accepted anecdotal fact that cannabis and music go together. From the jazz clubs to the headbangers ball to underground hip hop shows and beyond, where there’s music playing, pot’s often being consumed.
That long-lasting bond has recently come in handy for brands looking to connect with legal consumers. Federal regulations prohibit cannabis from online ads, forcing marketers and brands to ramp up creativity. In recent years, cannabis brands have become increasingly present at music festivals and concerts through sponsorships, activations and other consumer-facing endeavors.
“When executed correctly and compliantly, live event marketing collaborations can absolutely drive sales and brand awareness, as well as form lasting consumer relationships and promote brand loyalty,” said Andreas Neumann, Jushi Holdings Inc (OTCMKTS: JUSHF) (CNSX: JUSH) chief creative director and 2020 Grammy award winner for Best Album Package.
While short on data, cannabis leaders say they’ve witnessed the potential in live events marketing and partnerships with cannabis-friendly artists.
Live Event Marketing Grows In Cannabis
Like cannabis and its various medical claims, most seem to accept anecdotal feedback regarding the return on investment (ROI) for live event sponsorships. While additional findings would conclude the debate, most already agree on its efficacy.
“While legal cannabis is still a relatively young industry, the effectiveness of event marketing has been proven over and over in many other industries, including CPG,” said Glass House Brands Inc (OTCMKTS: GLASF) President Graham Farrar.
The uptick in cannabis at events has been noticeable, particularly in states with legalized adult-use and/or relaxed public consumption laws.
“While we have more regulations to contend with, it doesn’t change the value that live events can bring,” said Farrar.
Additional regulations, like bans on sales and onsite consumption, can prove detrimental, but brands have not let them thwart live music marketing endeavors.
Associating With Live Acts Reportedly Pays Off
As cannabis becomes more widely accepted, its presence grows at significant live events. So much so that the plant is sometimes front and center.
In October 2021, Eaze’s Grass Lands served as the hub for all things cannabis during the three-day Outside Lands Festival. Grass Lands came complete with its own stage and a three-day live music and comedy lineup. Event partners included Cookies, PAX, and Autumn Brands.
In January 2022, Veritas Fine Cannabis sponsored the 10th anniversary of the Winter on the Rocks concert held at Denver’s Red Rocks Amphitheater. Diplo and Talib Kweli headlined the event. Veritas’ featured onsite activations to improve the concert experience, including free shuttle rides and live paintings by artist Morgan Mandala.
“Live event marketing enables us to position ourselves in front of a new audience, as these events bring people from various backgrounds together,” said Veritas Marketing Director Jordan Plunkett.
The company also offered dispensary workers exclusive perks, including a performance by funk band Lettuce, catered meals, and early access to new products.
Taylor Saralli, the company’s presentation manager, noted that Veritas engages in various live events each year, including activations with electronic artist Pretty Lights and art exhibits from Meow Wolf.
Saralli, who considers live music one of the company’s most effective marketing tools, added, “Live events allow us to interact with, celebrate and create genuine relationships with our consumers and the budtenders who sell our products.”
Plunkett noted positive results from the Red Rocks event, including over 5,000 new consumer signups, 5,700 unique website visits, approximately 12% increase in social media engagement and roughly 300 new social media followers.
Others are reporting the benefits of live events. Juanjo Feijoo, COO & CMO for WM Technology Inc (NASDAQ: MAPS), didn’t offer financial figures but noted that activation partners had seen increased numbers from live event activations.
He noted that a 2021 live event collaboration at the multi-day Aftershock Festival with Sacramento-based dispensary and delivery service KOLAS paid off immensely. Their endeavor, the Loud Lounge, allowed guests to kick back while waiting for delivery orders.
Feijoo said sales boomed for KOLAS, resulting in “The equivalent of two or three weekends of orders for them.” He attributed the success to finding consumers in one collective event.
Thinking Beyond The Show
Opportunities exist beyond the venue, offering brands and performers ample opportunity to collaborate.
One example includes the September 2021 partnership between Denver’s Seed & Smith and electronic artists Big Gigantic. The company featured strains chosen by the band as part of the release of the company’s DART pod system. The company reported seeing a worthwhile ROI from the deal.
“Having that name attached to the DART certainly influenced some purchasing,” said Robbie Wroblewski, director of community outreach for Seed & Smith. The company did not provide financial data to support its report.