Given that Elon Musk has smoked cannabis in public and his latest venture needs money, it’s hardly shocking that Twitter became the first major social media platform to accept marijuana advertising last month.
Twitter’s move “marks a massive sea change for marijuana advertising,” according to the Davis+Gilbert law firm.
Still, as detailed in the Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia section of Twitter’s policies, there is a slew of restrictions on marijuana ads—many of them prohibiting the targeting of minors and making health claims.
One of the first—and by far the biggest—player to jump into the Twitter space is Trulieve Cannabis Corp., which in January had a dominant 23% share of the Florida medical marijuana market with 124 dispensaries out of a statewide total of 531.
Holding back for now are CPG companies like Jones Soda Co., which plays in the THC-infused beverage space with the Mary Jones Cannabis brand in California, Washington state and soon Michigan and Nevada.
Within four months of launching Mary Jones Cannabis last June, the brand gained distribution in 300 California dispensaries and hopes to expand that to more than 450 by the end of 2023.
At the same time, the brand is launching marijuana edibles in the form of gummies and “hard candy” tablets.
Aside from placements on B2B platforms dispensaries use to order marijuana products, Mary Jones Cannabis concentrates the bulk of its marketing efforts on in-dispensary exposure and consumer engagement via sampling and other initiatives.
In this interview, edited for brevity and clarity, Mary Jones Soda CMO Bohb Blair shares his thoughts on Twitter’s policy change and THC-infused beverages, which is one of the least-developed legal marijuana categories.
CPG Insider: Why aren’t you doing any buys on Twitter?
Blair: In my prior jobs I worked in a lot of mainline CPG marketing, and Twitter was always a suspect environment as far as things like ad fraud and brand safety go. It was always tough. You had to be careful how you navigated that platform. And from my perspective, it’s only gotten worse.
CPG Insider: But do you consider the policy change a step forward?
Blair: I think it’s a big deal for any platform to take that step. But what has to happen is it has to be implemented responsibly—meaning identified for the right audiences and right environments.
CPG Insider: What has been your approach to marketing the Mary Jones Cannabis brand?
Blair: We’ve been really cautious in the different ways we’ve experimented with paid media. The cannabis industry, compared to other environments, is really young. A lot of the opportunity is in budtender education and retail point of sale, meant to reinforce the audience that’s already in the store.
CPG Insider: What’s different about the THC-infused beverage category?
Blair: It still makes up only about 3% of sales in most retail establishments. So there’s a huge opportunity to convert 97% of the shoppers who are coming over to that refrigerator, before spending a lot of time trying to get new people to come in the door—which always costs more money.
CPG Insider: Marijuana gummies have always been popular, but tablets less so. What are your plans in that space?
Blair: We’re doing a pressed tablet format, which comes in the flavors of our Mary Jones sodas but also has a little effervescent experience in it. So it’s a fizzy cap. They come in a tin that’s child-resistant and portable, so you can take it wherever you want.