Under the influence

Published on December 31, 2018 by The Media Playbook

This is a column by affiliated ad agency The Media Playbook.


In the emerging cannabis industry, the social media influencer is proving to be a key piece in a key position.

Getting a cannabis name out there is hard. You can’t do it the usual way with marketing. Ad laws in Canada for cannabis are strict; more like tobacco and less like alcohol.

It’s a strange juxtaposition. Our feeds are peppered with Canadian Club ads but nothing from Tweed. We know what craft beer to buy but not craft cannabis. We get flyers for products and pricing at liquor stores but not for BC Cannabis Stores.

While money can’t change hands under The Cannabis Act, companies who can harness positive vibes, build their social media following – and earn valuable mentions from those on social media will have an upper hand.

We are poised for a battle for hearts and minds.

The year ahead

For cannabis, 2019 will likely be the year of the influencer.

When weed was illegal, only months ago, dispensaries breaking the law could advertise. Now, those who are doing it legally can’t even buy a newspaper or radio ad.

With traditional ways currently stymied, cannabis companies are seeking out places to reach new customers. Shine the spotlight on social media influencers.

The Postmedia chain’s cannabis news arm, The Growth Op, featured a handful of the established Instagram influencers in the joint, including:

Natasha Raey (@nraey)

Gill Pollard (@the_herblife)

Abi Roach (@abiroach420)

Phil Default (@phildepault)

At a time when Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ad accounts are getting banned because the post contains a reference to cannabis, influencers with an organic audience are the proverbial knights on the chess board.

True Leaf Pet just announced it’s looking for athletes or influencers to champion its cannabis cause. The North Okanagan-based True Leaf expects to announce its first celebrity brand ambassador early in the new year.

And who doesn’t want to see Tyler Seguin snuggle a puppy or Anastasia Bryzgalova cuddle a kitten.

“It’s been amazing to learn of the love between professional athletes and their pets. And even more amazing to learn their dogs have huge followings on social media,” said Darcy Bomford, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of True Leaf.

Sometimes the animals even overshadow the celebs.

Take Nacho Cilantro Pasutto.The “boxer pup with an attitude” is a traveller, licker, cuddler, and bad ass. He also happens to belong to Jillian Harris and her hubby Justin Pasutto.

Photo: @the_herblife