A successful collaboration can bring a brand from niche to buzzworthy in an instant, while simultaneously injecting an established brand with refreshed attitude. It’s a mutually beneficial way to add another facet to your brand’s identity while getting a direct introduction to a new audience.
Look at Crocs, the iconically maligned rubber clogs. In the face of serious profit loss and decreasing ironic street cred, the brand collaborated with Balenciaga on a 4-inch foam platform Croc topped with colorful embellishments. Most sizes sold out upon release, and the remaining cost no less than $850 at Nordstrom right now. By associating itself with a familiar, mainstream brand, a cannabis brand is suddenly more relatable and familiar too.
Collaborations can also provide a path around obstacles like rules against cannabis imagery or ads on certain social media platforms, and the additional exposure can make a vital difference in as turbulently saturated a market as Oregon’s. For the mainstream brands reaching a hand across the aisle, they get association with the on-trend cannabis industry without any of the costly, arduous administrative obligations of actually doing business in cannabis.
Here are five standout examples of cross-promotional creativity that remind every industry what it looks like to think outside the box, and how it can pay off.
Ladies of Paradise x Stonedware
Custom Geo Pipes
A year ago, Ladies of Paradise was an online vintage shop who put together pop-up photoshoots at cannabis events in Portland. The Ladies–a team of photographers, stylists and friends who truly love to dress up, smoke weed and take pictures–hosted a few parties of their own, including a Moroccan Nights-themed party that included custom handmade ceramic pipes by Portland artist, Stonedware.
Attendees could use the patterned pipes during the party, or purchase one to take home. Fast forward to August of this year, and Stonedware is regularly filling orders for the Ladies of Paradise brick-and-mortar in Southeast Portland.
Both companies are owned by young women working in the cannabis industry, their collab was an opportunity to have fun with the creative intersection of their brands and support one another in a sea of other cannabis accessory makers and sellers in the Portland area.
Custom PAX ERA pens and cartridges
Limited Edition PAX Labs x Oregrown a custom engraved commemorative Oregrown Era pen to celebrate Pride 2018, some of the proceeds of which went to three LGBTQ organizations in Oregon.
Oregrown x PAX
Oregrown has a growing statewide reputation as one of Bend’s most renowned producers, but nowhere close to the vape powerhouse that is PAX. Many cannabis growers and processors work with PAX to get their oil into the sleek vape cartridge format of the Juul-esque Era pens, but Oregrown took things one step further with custom patterns across the pens themselves.
The way these rechargeable pens work, consumers can use the conversation-starting pen with many more cartridges in the future–whether they’re vaping Oregrown product or not. For those that do seek the quality of flower from the vertically-integrated brand will appreciate the extra consideration of a strain label on the cartridge itself.
Usually the product info is on the packaging, so once it’s on the pen, you have no idea which cartridge is your favorite. Now you know a fellow Oregrown fan when you see one, regardless of what they’re vaping at that moment.
Serra x Woodblock Chocolate
Serra x Woodblock THC-dominant Creativity Bar.
Infused Bean-To-Bar Chocolate Bars
The upscale build-outs of Serra’s chain of posh dispensaries have raised standards for cannabis retail, but Oregon consumers weren’t immediately sold on the experience being worth paying double the average flower prices.
But the flower has only improved since they brought on esteemed cultivator Jeremy Plumb to lead the grow operations, and when the shop wanted to continue vertical integration with a house-brand edible, they turned to local artisanal chocolatier, Woodblock.
The chocolate makers preciously source cacao from Trinidad, Peru, Ecuador and Madagascar, which is then prepared in 100-year-old roasters. By collaborating with a highbrow chocolatier for their house-branded edibles, Serra further established its identity as a luxury cannabis brand. And Oregonians feel confident they know where to recommend when someone wants to indulge in the finest.
Quill x Pilot Farms
Quill x Pilot Farms pens, alongside Pilot flower and strain notes.
Strain Specific Vape Pens
For most processors, every batch of oil is technically a collaboration. If they don’t possess licenses to grow as well as process flower into concentrates, they’re getting a delivery of flower from different farms every few weeks.
But consumers typically only see the processor brand when they reach for their vape pen. Sure, you can read the fine print to learn who grew the flower used to make the pen’s oil. Quill celebrates the individual farm’s identity with a customized approach, like this round of Quill dosed vape pens filled with oil processed from specific Pilot Farms strains.
It isn’t just fresh packaging designed with Pilot Farm’s aesthetic in min, but specialized promo materials for consumers in-store and on social media to getter get to know the characteristics of that particular strain from Pilot Farms. These sort of stylish execution of common sense cross-promotion gives something cannabis consumers rarely experience: cohesive understanding of exactly what they’re smoking, and who made it.
East Fork Cultivars x Coalition Brewing
Hops and Cannabis are related somewhere down the line, after all.
In Oregon, the East Fork brand is synonymous with CBD. The owners contribute to the majority of solid CBD education in Portland with their education initiative, CBD Certified, and constantly engage with various communities to teach the finer nuances of this trending compound. Certified Hazy IPA is a creation of Coalition Brewing and East Fork Cultivars–a “celebration of cannabidiol education.”
The brew highlights the relationship between craft beer and craft cannabis movements, and the biological similarities between hops and cannabis. And because there isn’t THC content, the CBD-infused brew is available on tap at the Coalition Taproom and elsewhere in the Portland area. Cheers.
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