Image is everything. Just ask one of Colorado’s largest marketing companies.
The New York Times Style section published an article on Friday about rebranding the Colorado cannabis industry. The Colorado cannabis industry responded over the weekend in the form of angry posts on social media.
Cannabrand, the marijuana marketing company featured in the article, stated their intention to create a more upscale consumer cannabis experience. Industry members and activists sounded off about the lack of respect for how far they have come. After hearing about the criticisms over the weekend, the branding company’s dispensary client, MiNDFUL, heeded the outcry and dumped the company on Sunday.
Mindful CEO, Meg Sanders, issued a statement on Facebook:
MiNDFUL has parted with Cannabrand due to recent statements they have made that clearly conflict with our company values. We understand that these comments were hurtful and insulting to the industry and to the many that have fought so hard for years in the name of patient rights and safe access. We remain committed to serving our community, patients and customers with dignity and compassion.
Sanders confirmed through a company representative that the statement is accurate, but declined to comment further. Mindful — formerly known as Gaia, a dispensary chain with three locations in Colorado — took part in the article as a company trying to overhaul their image with the help of Cannabrand. Unfortunately, some of the comments made by Cannabrand co-owners Olivia Mannix and Jennifer DeFalco rubbed Sanders’ colleagues and customers the wrong way.
“I do take issue with a lot of what is said in this article,” wrote Kim Sidwell, owner of Cannabis Camera, and a long-time photographer for the industry. She goes on to explain that the stereotypes spoken about were real when she started her business in 2009, but have since changed.
What exactly did the CannaBrand co-owners say to get Sidwell and others so heated? Here are some quotes that riled.
“We’re weeding out the stoners,” said Olivia Mannix. “We want to show the world that normal, professional, successful people consume cannabis.”
Dispensaries still “look like underground abortion clinics,” Ms. Mannix said. Advertisements are full of “women with whipped cream straddling bongs,” Ms. [Jennifer] DeFalco said.
The article’s author did not help matters by using the word “pot” — ironically a word the article says not to use — in the title and making every Colorado marijuana dispensary sound like a tacky crack den. When Marijuana.com asked Sidwell for a few real-life examples of what dispensaries in Colorado look like, she happily obliged.
The two pictures below are the waiting room and inside of Terrapin Care Station, a dispensary in Boulder serving both retail and medical users. The featured image at the top of this article is the inside of Groundswell Cannabis Boutique, a medical-only dispensary in Denver.
Marijuana.com contacted Mannix and DeFalco to get their response to the backlash from their remarks. While they declined to comment on the client loss, they provided a statement by email regarding the response to the article.
“We’ve received a broad range of feedback from across the country on the NY Times piece from people who felt that the article resonated with them, and others who didn’t see eye to eye.
We highly support the normalization of cannabis and are pushing for the advancement of legalization cross-nationally. We are aiming to open up the demographic of the cannabis consumer so that people of all walks of life are no longer afraid to identify themselves as cannabis users.”
Sidwell pointed out in her Facebook post that she has met both women before and believes their heads are in the right place. She says that her problem is with people making the industry look bad in order to make themselves look good.
“We already have enough enemies out there working to demonize the industry.” Sidwell said. “The last thing we need is a group of new cannabis-professionals needlessly making the industry look bad in an effort to gain attention for their own agenda.”