One of the most important aspects of marketing a successful product is branding. It can mean the difference between the iconic success of a consumer creation or its miserable failure. But bringing a well-known brand to life isn’t easy. It can take years, sometimes decades to build the kind of name recognition popular companies like Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola have established. And having a little money doesn’t hurt either. The cannabis industry is starting to grip this concept. But rather than invest the kind of time needed to develop a sole identifier in the competitive cannabis space, some of these businesses have simply opted to partner with already recognized brands in hopes of catapulting their products even further beyond the competition.
Los Angeles-based cannabis firm MedMen is one of those companies. It recently signed an exclusive licensing deal to emblazon its pot products with the Woodstock brand, including the music festival’s legendary bird-perched-on-guitar imagery that has become synonymous with peace, love and drugs. The company, which is the largest cannabis operation in the United States, worth an estimated $1.4 billion, plans to push the Woodstock imprint in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois and Arizona. As more states go legal, Woodstock weed (or whatever the company plans to call it) will likely find its way into those territories, according to a recent press release.
Like it or not, it makes perfect sense for this development to unfold. The 1969 Woodstock festival, which was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music,” remains one of the most important moments in not only music history, but also the drug culture that exists within. Woodstock “signaled the merger and ambivalence of the counterculture and protest” and took a strong stance against the violence of the Vietnam War.
But it did so much more.
The festival at Yasgur’s farm in New York is perhaps the first time the mostly unpronounced cannabis culture banded together in any shape or form and unwittingly showed governmental controls, law enforcement and the politicians that they were vastly outnumbered. During performances by artists such as Janis Joplin, The Who and Jimi Hendrix, cannabis and other mind-altering substances were reportedly passed around the crowd “stranger to stranger” in a liberal fashion, perhaps like water bottles would be today. And the media was there to show the world that the kids had gone reefer mad. The New York Times estimates that 99 percent of the half a million fans in attendance were smoking marijuana. Police officials said it would have used up all the jail space “in three counties” to arrest everyone they spotted with weed.
So to connect the Woodstock brand with the newly legal cannabis scene is almost an essential transition. It pays homage to the beginning of the battle against the system and marks the edge of victory.
“The Woodstock festival marked the height of the 1960s counter-culture movement,” MedMen Co-founder and CEO Adam Bierman said in a statement. “As a brand, MedMen is all about pushing the boundaries and bringing about progressive change to make marijuana use part of the mainstream.
“It will help us reach a broad audience of consumers who are familiar with marijuana use, and ready to discover new products and ways to incorporate cannabis into their lives,” he added.
Although MedMen has not yet revealed how much it is paying Woodstock Ventures LLC to sling pot products branded with their trademarks, festival producers Michael Lang and Joel Rosenman seem pleased enough with the deal. The two recently filed a lawsuit against another medical marijuana company for using its namesake without permission.
“We’ve been looking for the right partner — one with our values and our quality standards. When we were introduced to MedMen, we knew that our search was over,” Lang and Rosenman said in a statement. “They are tireless innovators of new products who never lose sight of the number one focus for both of our companies — quality.”
TELL US, would you buy Woodstock weed?