When Canopy Growth announced the 2. In March, the Canadian cannabis producer also announced its new brand ambassador, launching its Quatreau CBD drink brand in the U.S. market: American astrologer Susan Miller.

Ambassadors and celebrities alike are familiar with the Canopy space, already known for its ties to Seth Rogen, Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart.

Although Ms. Miller is not a well-known name, she is one of the most popular figures in astrology and counts singer Katy Perry and actress Kirsten Dunst among her famous fans.

Miller’s @astrology has more than 430,000 followers on Twitter and 112,000 on Instagram, many of whom are interested in wellness and self-care. And according to her website, Ms. Miller for magazines such as Elle and Vogue Japan.

But not everyone appreciated the connection between Canopy and Miller.

On social networks, some were dismayed by this choice and questioned the desire to reconcile unscientific astrology and the effects of cannabidiol.

I’m not sure that $CGC, nestled in the astrology against CBD, is the right choice for cannabinoids with scientifically proven benefits. Cloudy message from IMO https://t.co/9SUDPQJSf5

– GoBlueCdn (@GoBlueCdn) 2. March 2021

Miller is not the first brand ambassador to cause a stir, which can be considered mild criticism in comparison.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based cannabis producer Invictus Group has terminated Gene Simmons’ five-year contract after just 17 months in 2019.

The partnership has been criticized because the music icon and co-founder of the rock band Kiss was known as an opponent of drugs and alcohol, but Simmons said he has changed his mind about cannabis in recent years.

When WeedMD’s mining subsidiary, CX Industries, announced plans to partner with Dan Bilzerian’s Ignite as early as 2019, the backlash on social media was significant – the friendly poker player on Instagram is also known for making derogatory comments about women.

And last month, the Toke Cannabis Store in Hamilton, Ontario, canceled the spot of guest bud man Mark Emery, an activist jailed in the U.S. for selling seeds who was accused in Vice magazine of creating a demeaning work culture for the young women who worked with him before legalization.

Even after the event was canceled, some local shoppers said on social media that they would never shop at the store again. In response to the Vice article, Emery said he never hurt or sexually assaulted anyone.

Cannabis marketers face the challenge of finding partners who are provocative enough not to deviate from the core values of their target audience.

To find out how to approach the verification process, Marijuana Business Daily spoke with some of the industry’s top brand strategists,

Be authentic

In Canopy’s case, the first rule of thumb is to find mainstream partners who truly love the company’s cannabis products.

Susan tried all of our products and immediately saw a connection to not only astrological signs, but also to holistic health and wellness, which is very relevant and prevalent for her audience, said Tara Rosalowski, Canopy’s vice president of food and beverage products. And that was a win – she personally loves our products.

Authenticity may be even more important for small businesses, says Danny Murr-Sloat, co-founder of Colorado-based growing and consulting company AlpinStash.

Ultimately, each partner – especially if it’s a celebrity – will be one of the most public faces of your brand, he added.

Even if you choose a social influencer who may not have the same traction and influence as a celebrity, he or she should be aligned with your values.

You have to use your products too. Marijuana companies will want to avoid the embarrassing case of Oprah Winfrey and Microsoft Corp.

In 2012, the media mogul included Microsoft’s new Surface tablet in his annual list of favorites. She compared it to a Mercedes.

Winfrey then tweeted to her nearly 15 million followers: I have to say that I love this SEASON! I’ve already bought 12 of them for Christmas presents. #FavoriteThings.

There was one small problem, however.

Winfrey – or whoever is responsible for her account – sent a tweet from her iPad, prompting criticism in the blogosphere.

do your best

Josefine Nowitz, co-founder of Boston-based digital marketing agency Cannabis Creative, warns that the vetting process can be time-consuming, but it’s worth it to enter into a brand partnership with confidence.

Cannabis Creative often works with social media partners, and the company strives to avoid individuals associated with hateful content, such as. B. racist, sexist or homophobic content.

But the verification criteria can be more complex with cannabis, where the history of prohibition means that these are consistent with shared brand values, such as. B. Cannabis for health or wellness, does not necessarily mean they are appropriate for every brand.

Often there are people who are not only influential, but activists who are progressive and have strong opinions, she said.

And it’s important for brands to monitor these people….. to make sure they are consistent with their mission and position, but also to make sure that if they want to avoid this kind of communication or language, they should be carefully vetted in advance.

The process takes longer than a Google search, but it’s a good start.

Novitz conducts a thorough background check and recommends a smooth approval process to ensure that all partner-related content published is pre-approved.

Another way to vet partners is to solicit feedback from different parties, says Rachel Colic, a brand strategist from Ontario, Canada. This information may come from your own employees or from market research.

Most of the people who make media marketing decisions are men, and usually those are white men in most of the world’s major agencies, she said.

This can lead to a dangerous echo chamber where potential red flags go unnoticed because many people around the table have a similar perspective.

That tells me they’re not really thinking about their broader community, Colic noted.

Protect your brand in writing

It’s important not to be so careful that the brand becomes sterile or boring, says Andrew DeAngelo, a consultant and strategic advisor based in Oakland, Calif.

It is important to consider and seek input from different perspectives, but it is also essential to have your own perspective.

Marketers who are too afraid to alienate customers won’t resonate with anyone.

That’s why, according to DeAngelo, once you choose a partner who makes a point and aligns with your brand values, you still don’t know what might happen in the future.

That’s why, according to DeAngelo, it’s important to include guarantees in the contract.

It may help to talk to a celebrity and get a contract that says: If you misbehave, we’ll distance ourselves from you, fire you and tell the world we don’t love you anymore, he said.

These things, I think, are often overlooked.

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