Did BLK MKT cross the line?

Published on January 17, 2020 by David Wylie

Booth No. 709 drew a lot of attention during Lift & Co.’s recent Vancouver cannabis convention — not all of it good.

The booth belonged to Kelowna’s BLK MKT cannabis brand. The name, itself a reference to weed’s legacy market, has already drawn some scorn. Now people are reacting to BLK MKT’s latest marketing slogan: ‘Once you go BLK…’

Some well-known social media cannabis personalities reacted swiftly after pictures of the booth were posted on Twitter.

“This is disgusting and appalling,” reacted Rachel Colic, of Boss Ladies of Cannabis.

“Lift & Co. should be embarrassed that they promoted this brand and the people who created this brand should be fired. The name was bad enough, but these headlines are racist, not edgy.”

Her sentiment was echoed by others.

BLK MKT responds

The online pushback was enough to nudge a reaction from GreenTec Holdings Ltd., the Kelowna-based licensed producer that operates BLK MKT through Alberta Craft Cannabis.

“The BLK MKT brand was conceptualized and built by three individuals, two of which were people of colour,” says the statement.

“The brand was considered relevant, interesting and ‘edgy’ in that it references the legacy cannabis market. When we solicited feedback on this brand concept from our employees, friends, family and industry experts, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Moreover, while it should be obvious, we would highlight that this brand has absolutely nothing to do with race.”

GTEC says they ran the idea by men and women of various ethnic groups, “including those of African descent,” and that they received no negative feedback.

“For the most part, other than a group of individuals on Twitter, it was well received.”

The company says that of the thousands who passed by the booth at Lift & Co., only one person expressed they weren’t OK with the phrase.

“Notwithstanding our position on these issues, we do want to clarify that the company has no plans to continue using this marketing tagline in the future.”

The company cited its own diversity in its statement, saying their CEO is Chinese, CFO is Female, and Head of Marketing is of East African descent.

GreenTec’s founder and CEO Norton Singhavon certainly saw the controversy coming. As has been said before, all publicity is good publicity.