Olivia Mannix, left, and Jennifer DeFalco of Cannabrand. (Matt Nager Photography)

Ad execs respond: ‘This industry must be presented in the best light possible’

Editor’s note: After a New York Times piece on rebranding Colorado cannabis landed on Oct. 3, some inside the local marijuana community took issue with statements made by Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco, who own Denver-rooted ad agency Cannabrand. Mannix and DeFalco contacted The Cannabist on Tuesday to see about writing an op-ed piece on the backlash they’ve received.

It has come to our attention that some of the cannabis community is less than thrilled with comments our agency made in a recent NYT article, to put it mildly. The word “stoner” has raised a lot of controversy, with many people using it to identify themselves and their lifestyle, and others who find the word as a stigma, pigeonholing an entire industry.

So, to clarify: We love marijuana. We think it is an amazing and versatile plant, with limitless benefits and potential. And, we love the marijuana community. We do not wish to ostracize anyone who identifies her/himself as a “stoner,” but rather we are committed to moving away from the outdated clichés that follow this plant everywhere.

We do indeed support the original cannabis culture — after all, if it were not for hardworking trailblazers who fought for the legalization of this plant, we wouldn’t be where we are today as an industry. We sincerely respect that.

That said, we acknowledge that this industry must be presented in the best light possible, because this will ultimately influence policymakers nationwide in deciding whether or not to legalize marijuana.

Standing in the way of progress are persistent stereotypes surrounding cannabis culture, often perceived negatively by the general public; these associations do nothing more than alienate the majority of Americans from enjoying all of its many benefits. We must bridge the gap between traditional 420 culture and a new wave of cannabis consumers who are excited about the recent legalization, but who do not feel that they can relate to industry messaging. That is why it is our mission to bring marijuana into the mainstream.

We want our grandparents to feel comfortable walking into a dispensary to purchase their medication, without thinking twice about it. And we want adults from all walks of life to be able to identify with others in the cannabis community. With this in mind, we are working hard to aid the industry in catering to demographics that have traditionally been overlooked in cannabis marketing, including but not limited to: women, baby boomers and the LGBT community.

We envision the industry performing like any other successful industry, free from the burden of stigma, so that we can market effectively in mainstream publications that reach a broader demographic.

After all, marijuana is more than just a doobie or a dab; it is a good night’s sleep, it is a pain reliever, it is a cancer treatment, it is a good laugh and it needs to be shared with everyone.

We look forward to continuing to work with cutting edge cannabis companies that share our vision for marijuana use to finally be socially acceptable — and legal — across the United States.

Catch up on the news

‘We’re weeding out the stoners’: How an ad agency lost a client, and respect

Author Neal Pollack responds to Cannabrand’s comments: ‘Don’t let pot just be another yuppie lifestyle accoutrement’