As an industry under the microscope, cannabis is revealing some interesting trends when it comes to those who work in the sector, one of which is that it’s attracting a lot of women from the world of advertising despite cannabis being almost entirely taboo in terms of its marketing. To find out what might be driving this drift, The Fresh Toast asked a few women who leaped.
Blaine Pearson, Business of Cannabis
Pearson was attracted to the cannabis space because at the time it was a nascent industry that was emerging, where the rules were being written as it evolved. “In my career, I’ve sort of always worked in new media and social and digital, so you know it just felt naturally a little bit unknown but therefore interesting,” she tells The Fresh Toast.
She thinks that women in advertising see cannabis as a tremendous creative opportunity. “And I think just the fact that it is new and interesting and there are a lot of quite interesting roles, and the sort of marketing branding conversation is one that is least defined at this point, based on the regulations, and therefore requires a great deal of flexibility and ingenuity.”
Business of Cannabis just launched a new daily show, called BoC Live (catch it on Twitter) and Pearson says she is very excited about Medical Cannabis Week which will be the second annual gathering on the topic.
Rachel Colic, Boss Ladies of Cannabis
A brand strategist since 2004, Rachel Colic has built a significant reputation in the advertising industry with YCREATIVE, but with just four years in the cannabis space, she’s launched heavy-hitting projects, like Boss Ladies of Cannabis, Eves of Eden, startup launchpad Leaf Forward, and Toronto-based licensed producer PureSinse.
When it comes to making a career change from marketing to marketing cannabis, Colic acknowledges that there is a risk but says the appeal is multi-fold. “One of the big things is you know cannabis is the next CPG and CPG is advertising. So in that sense what I think what you’re seeing is early adopters, people who are willing to take a risk.” Those that are willing to take the risk, she says, could find themselves on the ground floor of a hockey stick moment like that of the dot-com boom.
Rachel is one of the presenting speakers at year’s O’Cannabiz conference and expo, April 25-27, in Toronto.
Rebecca Brown, Crowns Agency
Rebecca Brown is the founder of Crowns, a full-service cannabis industry consultancy, but she has had a long career in marketing and advertising, including being vice president of social media and content at J. Walter Thompson.
“I have always been interested in how you hack the agency model and make it different and better,” Brown tells The Fresh Toast. “I also became very convinced while I was active in large traditional agencies that they were not the right model for the needs of most industries right now but specifically not for cannabis because that requires both specialization and speed.”
Brown sees a lack of female representation on the creative side as one factor that could be sending more women in search of new opportunities in a new space.
“[Cannabis] is attracting people from marketing and advertising perhaps who were never a fit in the first place in those environments,” Brown says.
“I think it’s unsurprising the kind of brain this space needs because it isn’t linear and you will have an easier time if your default mindset is to chart your own path because there’s nothing in place to tell you what to do you.”
Brown will also be on stage at this year’s O’Cannabiz conference.