Canada has legalized cannabis for recreational purposes nation-wide for over a year now. Real brands have started to emerge in the minds of consumers. Retail franchises have begun taking hold across the country. Some large companies are beginning to falter and skilled operators are rising in the ranks. The results of the 2019 Advertising Awards paints a picture of which brands, people and products have successfully navigated the cannabis marketing regulations in Canada to build meaningful experiences for consumers. Here are your ADCANN 2019 Winners Canada:
Best Packaging Design – TGOD Glass Jars
Best Storefront Branding – Superette
Best Social Media – Superette
Brand Of The Year – PureSunFarms
Marketer Of The Year – Josh Lyon (Canopy Growth)
Campaign Of The Year – Tweed x Uber x MADD
Agency Of The Year – Abacus Agency
Best Packaging Design - The Green Organic Dutchman’s Glass Jars
Canadian licensed cannabis brands are relatively limited when it comes to packaging design. Packaging can only contain one logo, the logo must be the same size or smaller than the THC warning symbol, they are limited to only one or two colours among many other restrictions.
This year, The Green Organic Dutchman (TGOD) stood out among its peers with its unique glass jars.
TGOD has said no to plastic containers from the very beginning, instead choosing to go green with recyclable glass packaging for oils and flowers and recyclable paper for shipping. They’ve also designed their glass packaging with a care that lends its hand to reusing instead of recycling. They encourage innovative ways to reduce the impact of cannabis legalization on the environment because they believe a greener cannabis industry is not only possible, but essential. Created and designed in collaboration with Pharmasystems, this proprietary shape was developed for launch in early 2019 and has received glowing reviews in the recreational and medical markets.
In addition to the jar’s unique design helping to ensure the product stands out on shelves, it serves two important purposes. While closed, the cut-out allows the jar to sit in one’s hand and provide greater torque when opening the jar. While open, the slanted feature allows for the jar to sit on its side which facilitates easier flower access. Additionally, by being built with glass, there is less static charge (vs traditional plastic packaging) and ensures the quality of product goes directly to the consumer as opposed to being left behind in the jar.
TGOD is a premium certified organic cannabis company focused on the health and wellness market. Its certified‐organic cannabis is grown in living soil. The company is committed to cultivating a better tomorrow by producing its products responsibly, with less waste and impact on the environment. Its two Canadian facilities are being built to LEED certification standards and its products are sold in recyclable packaging. In Canada, TGOD plans to expand its product portfolio by launching a series of next‐generation cannabis products such as organic teas, infusers and vapes. Through its European subsidiary, HemPoland, the company also distributes premium hemp CBD oil in Europe. By leveraging science and technology, TGOD harnesses the power of nature from seed to sale.
Best Storefront Branding - Superette
2019 was the first real year of recreational cannabis retail across Canada. Consumers are just beginning to get used to the idea of buying legal weed from a regulated storefront. Several large chains and franchises have emerged along with many trusted mom-and-pop shops. These stores have a bit more freedom than licensed producers when it comes to social media and marketing, but there are still a myriad of restrictions that these shops are subject to. Navigating within these regulations means that retailers cannot show customers the products they are purchasing, making the retail experience and budtender interactions of utmost importance. The winner of this category has had a year full of awards, from Lift & Co. to Leafly to ADCANN. Superette has created a truly unique storefront concept that has captured the fascination of cannabis consumers across the country.
Superette is a cannabis retailer headquartered in Toronto, Ontario with their flagship location currently in Ottawa. The word “Superette” is an alternative name for a compact food market or convenience store. Superette took this concept and tastefully combined it with cannabis. The result is one of the only unique and consumer-friendly cannabis retail experiences in Canada.
Superette is not your average dispensary. The store is outfitted with diner-style tables and counter that give off a hip but retro vibe. The express area resembles a local deli or bakery counter. The design is clean and sleek while maintaining a bright and welcoming atmosphere.
Their mission is to make buying cannabis “friendly and easy” and this is reflected throughout the entire store. Consumers can pick up shopping baskets that indicate whether they need assistance or not (green for yes, red for no). Superette’s budtenders are more than happy to sit down with customers and answer their cannabis questions.
Although Superette cannot sell clothing or branded items inside, the storefront’s merchandise line has become a popular business in and of itself. Superette-branded apparel and cannabis accessories are available for purchase on their online shop. The store’s clothing line has become a status symbol among the hip fashion-forward 420-friendly crew.
Best Social Media - Superette
Superette is the first and only double winner in the ADCANN awards. Not only do they have the best branding out of all licensed storefronts across Canada, they also have the best social media across the entire cannabis sector, as voted by you, the ADCANN community.
Superette’s social media content is classy, cool and informative. A beautiful feed of blue, red and white, Superette maintains and conveys their edgy yet elegant aesthetic perfectly online. A large amount of their graphics and social media posts include roses and flowers, which is in line with their logo. Many of their pictures show off the unique interior design and supermarket-style layout of the shop.
Superette proactively reaches out to influencers and cannabis community members through social media and other channels. They have built relationships with many thought leaders and early adopters by inviting them to events, gifting them merchandise and by showing them love on social media. This has created a large supportive community online for the brand.
Out of all cannabis companies, Superette undeniably has some of the most cutting-edge community engagement. Every comment, complaint or question is answered in a timely manner with respect, politeness and a dose of Superette-style personality.
Superette sets a great example for all cannabis companies with their social media content, community engagement and influencer marketing.
Brand Of The Year - Pure Sunfarms
In such a regulated marketing space, brands need to get creative with their messaging and visual branding to stand out. Building brand loyalty and trust is even more important in a market where consumers cannot see, smell or inspect the cannabis before purchasing. Pure Sunfarms undoubtedly made a giant splash this year with their marketing activations and product launches.
Pure Sunfarms brand messaging communicates the agricultural roots of the company with a focus on the sun and the love of the plant. “Farm to flower” and “From the pure light of BC. And an even purer love of plants” are two of their mantras that reflect these values.
The brand was created in collaboration with Glasfurd & Walker, a brand, design and art direction studio based in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Pure Sunfarms is one of Canada’s largest, single site, licensed producers of greenhouse-grown cannabis. Located in Delta, British Columbia, Pure Sunfarms is a vertically integrated supplier of large-scale, high-quality cannabis to the Canadian market, with 1.1 million square feet of greenhouse operations and production capacity of 75,000 kilograms of dried flower annually.
Pure Sunfarms products can currently be purchased in Ontario and British Columbia. Pure Sunfarms is a 50/50 joint venture between Village Farms International, Inc. and Emerald Health Therapeutics Inc.
Marketer Of The Year - Josh Lyon (Canopy Growth)
Marketers are the backbone of ADCANN. The individuals that work day in and day out to build brands are incredibly important for the cannabis industry as a whole. This year’s marketer of the year is an industry veteran that has worked in the space as an executive for almost five years.
Josh Lyon is the Senior Director, Partner Brands at Canopy Growth Corporation. He previously served as the Head of Marketing and Partnerships and the VP of Marketing at Tokyo Smoke before it was acquired by Canopy in 2018. He is a McGill University graduate and has worked in a variety of marketing roles during his career.
Josh is the definition of a thought leader in the cannabis marketing space, speaking on numerous panels at conferences across the country. He has helped build some of the most recognizable brands in the Canadian marijuana space and continues to push the industry forward with his work at Canopy Growth.
Campaign Of The Year - Tweed x Uber x MADD
Marketing campaigns are a strange and unique concept in the regulated cannabis industry. When you can’t buy billboards or out-of-home advertising, tv commercials or social media advertising spots to promote your products – what do you? You get creative. This year, Tweed, Uber and MADD combined forces to create the most popular campaign of the year, as voted by the ADCANN community.
Tweed, one of Canada’s most well-known cannabis brands joined forces with ride-share goliath Uber and MADD Canada to launch a national awareness campaign focused on educating Canadians on the dangers of impaired driving. Through this campaign, they made suggestions for 101 creative things to do instead of driving high.
The three organizations aim to shine the spotlight on this important issue while approaching it in a creative and engaging way. The initiative’s main content platform is DontDriveHigh.ca but they have also purchased a series of digital and OOH advertising spots.
The campaign launched in October of 2018 and is still running currently. This makes “Don’t Drive High” the longest running cannabis marketing campaign in Canada. This initiative has created a good amount of conversation surrounding the issue and the brands involved.
Tweed was founded in 2014 in Smiths Falls, Ontario as one of the first licensed producers in Canada. They are one of the most recognizable brands in the space, with products and stores from coast to coast.
Agency Of The Year - Abacus Agency
Agencies are an important part of the cannabis marketing ecosystem. These creative and consulting companies help licensed cultivators navigate the confusing regulatory framework to create real connections with cannabis consumers. This year, the number one agency in the space as voted by the ADCANN community is Abacus.
Abacus entered the category before it was even a category in Canada. They worked with cannabis companies in the early pre-legalization stages in 2015 and in the post-legalization stages now, consistently applying their award-winning creative and media performance thinking to excel in a restricted market. Now Abacus services the global cannabis market.
Abacus offers consulting, brand strategy, fluid identity design, social content production, go-to-market strategy and execution, paid media and distribution, data collection, advertising creative, packaging design and legal compliance for the cannabis industry.
Abacus has worked with well-known and respected cannabis brands and companies including Aphria (RIFF and Solei), Trec Brands (Blissed), High12Brands (LOUD), Ace Valley, Aurora, Canopy (Tokyo Smoke and Tweed) and Burb.