Kevin Smith’s New Film Brands Marijuana

The world of cinema and cannabis culture have recently intersected through an innovative marketing tactic. On Friday, September 6, 2014, The New York Times reported on the advertising technique of “Tusk,” a new movie by Kevin Smith, which includes selling two medical marijuana strains under the movie’s brand names: Mr. Tusk and White Walrus.

Each branded strain produces an effect that correlates to the namesake’s persona. Starting September 26, the strains will be available at Buds & Roses, a dispensary based in Los Angeles. “White Walrus, I’m told, is more mellow and uplifting,” whereas Mr. Tusk is “supposedly more intense,” Graham Retzik, the marketing strategist for the indie film company releasing “Tusk,” commented to The New York Times.

The film, categorized as horror, is certainly an odd candidate when it comes to utilizing the marijuana industry as a primary marketing medium. However, one cannot deny that when it comes to marketing, it’s imperative to keep things fresh, interesting and relatable. The movie industry is highly competitive and, as The New York Time reports, “any idea that keeps a movie from being drowned in the din of the 400 or so new films being shown here is probably a good thing.”

While marijuana users are toking their purchase of Mr. Tusk or White Walrus or both, will they create the association that the bud they’re smoking has something to do with Kevin Smith’s latest film? Or are users simply purchasing both strains because they are some of the best that Buds & Roses has to offer? Perhaps some medical patients may be attune to the fact that strain naming is a tool to bring brand awareness to “Tusk,” but interestingly enough, the film “does not have pot-smoking scenes,” according to Retzik.

Graham Retzik is among the first to incorporate marijuana strain-marketing within cinema. In another famous case, stoner movie “Pineapple Express” has been associated with a strain of the same name; however, the strain was a byproduct of the film, and not a targeted marketing campaign. Plus, the two films differ in genre, “Pineapple Express” is a stoner comedy, and “Tusk” is, well, quite the opposite.

Kevin Smith, screenwriter of the  movies “Tusk” and “Clerks,” among others, could gain from a connection with the marijuana community due to his pot-friendly nature. But unless buyers are aware of this connection, there is a chance the marketing tactic could be lost in translation, simply due to the fact that the movie “Tusk” doesn’t have much to do with weed. Then again, Kevin Smith has always been known for having a loyal fanbase so perhaps some of his fans will make a special trek to buy Smith’s strains.

Nevertheless, as with any sort of marketing campaign, the numbers will prove its success. Perhaps this type of marketing will be a groundbreaking new means of gaining product awareness. In comparison to TV spots, advertising via a strain’s name transcends typical forms of brand awareness. In addition, it is relatively cost effective and is a mutually beneficial partnership. Besides, it could be a marketing strategist’s dream to say, “people are smoking my latest branding idea.”

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