2020 has truly tested the creativity of cannabis marketers in Canada and beyond. With many of the traditional communication channels being shut down due to COVID-19 restrictions, brands and individuals have had to find innovative methods of connecting with consumers.
Many experienced creatives and executives from other CPG and regulated industries have started to migrate to cannabis as the industry matures. They bring with them a wealth of knowledge and understanding of customer-centric advertising and branding. We are now seeing this experience play out in meticulously-designed and executed campaigns and brand launches. This year’s list of top five cannabis marketers in Canada includes industry heavyweights and agency founders. Let’s take a look at the Canadian cannabis marketer finalists as voted by you, the ADCANN community.
Adil is a cannabis marketing Trailblazer and the Head of Marketing at GTEC Cannabis Co, another LP that is a finalist for a handful of categories, including, Best Packaging Design, Marketing Campaign of the Year, and Brand of the Year. Adil is a jack of all trades when it comes to marketing, single-handedly managing the multiple brands in GTEC’s portfolio. The ideator of BLK MKT’s “Once you BLK” slogan that caused some controversy at Lift earlier this year, as well as printing the terpene profile on the packaging for the Terps on Bottles campaign, Adil understands what makes a brand buzz and how to reach the experienced cannabis user.
A freelance creative for hire who had built websites for cannabis companies, Adil joined GTEC back in 2017 and began building some of the most recognizable brands in the industry. He also manages all marketing initiatives, all creative design, photoshoots, sourcing all product packaging, new product launches, as well as assisting with liquor board product registrations.
”As someone who tends to keep a low profile, it's truly an honour to be recognized and nominated by the industry and my peers. I'm fuelled by a passion to understand the diverse variety of cannabis consumers, and help develop a brand and product portfolio that will stand out from the crowd and offer the best consumer experience possible.Adil Hirji, Head of Marketing, GTEC
Bella is an Associate Brand Manager for the Auxly Group, the company behind the brands Kolab and Foray, which are finalists for Marketing Campaign of the Year, Best Packaging Design, and Best Social Media. She initiated and executed a first-to-market Vape Recycling Program across Canada for Kolab, which garnered media attention from many national news outlets.
Prior to joining Auxly in 2019, Bella was the Marketing Manager for a wine company and founded the women’s lifestyle magazine, Missy Ink. Her entrepreneurial spirit helps her stay focused on growth marketing for both new and established brands using a 360 approach with digital, traditional, and experiential marketing.
”I’m thrilled to be recognized as a finalist for ADCANN’s Marketer of the Year! It’s humbling to be included in such an accomplished group of talented marketers. Having made a pivot in my career from adult beverage to cannabis and be recognized as an influential woman in the industry is a tremendous feeling. I am grateful to be part of an excellent and supportive team with Kolab Project; the project I am most proud to have produced is an industry-wide sustainability program, which was fueled by my entrepreneurial spirit and passion for corporate social responsibility. This initiative, Kolab Project Recycles, is being recognized as Campaign of the Year, and ties closely to Best Packaging of the Year for Kolab Project’s biodegradable pre-roll and vape packs. I hope this recognition can be used as inspiration for other young female marketers looking to break into the cannabis industry and share their vision at any level in their career.Bella Mitchell, Associate Brand Manager, Auxly
Danielle is the VP Marketing of Choom, one of Canada’s largest cannabis retail chains that are also a finalist for Canadian Storefront Brand of the Year and Best Social Media. Danielle has strengthened Choom’s brand recognition through digital marketing. As a creative mind with a strong commercial focus, Danielle has been an integral contributor to the expansion of the Choom brand through distribution channel strategies including wholesale, retail, and digital within the Canadian market.
Danielle is an MBA graduate with 14 years of brand marketing experience in the apparel industry. She’s focused on facilitating strategic brand and retail expansion that drives long-term business growth and is driven by a passion and empathy for people, creative and consumer knowledge. Her leadership has not only inspired her team to excel, but Choom’s audience to mobilize and show their support.
”Marketing is more than just a form of communication, to me it is a service model. Through each touch point of our omni-channel marketing strategy, our clients are able to succinctly see and feel the brand; so to be recognized for these efforts amongst an outstanding field of marketeers is phenomenal, and speaks to the work we have been tirelessly doing.Danielle Hinan, VP Marketing, Choom
Matt is the Founder and Chief Consultant of Profound Cannabis Design and Marketing, an agency that helps cannabis companies develop more inspired cannabis products and more persuasive product marketing communication. He specializes in everything from compliant label design, to trade, digital, and social media marketing.
Before he founded Profound in March of this year, Matt was the Brand Manager for the High Park company, where he worked on the brands Canaca and The Batch. Prior to joining the cannabis industry, Matt bounced around the advertising world for the better part of two decades and spent time at many prestigious agencies such as Cundari, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy & Mather, Extreme Group, Cossette, Bensimon Byrne, and Virtue Worldwide.
”It's an honour to be recognized by a publication I've followed since the beginning. ADCANN represents what I love best about this industry: creativity, entrepreneurialism, and hard work fueled by passion. I'm humbled to be included on this list with my co-nominees, and am deeply grateful for the opportunities I've had to contribute to this amazing homegrown industry.Matt Coulson, Founder, Profound
Nicole is a cannabis marketing Trailblazer and the Brand Director of The Flowr Corporation, an LP that is no stranger to this year’s awards. Flowr is also nominated for Campaign of the Year for their Art & Science campaign and Brand of the Year. Nicole worked closely with Canadian Cannabis Marketing Agency finalist, Zerotrillion, to develop the new branding for Flowr and all of the campaigns they have run in the past year, including Art & Science and Project Homegrown.
After making the jump from alcohol to cannabis marketing in 2019, Nicole has made quite an impact in the last year. Flowr’s great products such as their BC Pink Kush are finally getting the attention they deserve and Flowr now has one of the most recognizable brands in the industry thanks to her marketing efforts.
”It’s a huge honour and also very humbling to be recognized amongst some incredibly talented people and brands within the Canadian cannabis industry. I’d like to thank the team at ADCANN for the work they’re doing to shine a light on marketing in cannabis and helping to drive this industry forward. In 2021 I hope that great work and quality products to stand behind that work are only the beginning. What I really hope for is the work that brands put out can do some part in helping to fight the stigma that unfortunately continues to exist.Nicole Wolff, Brand Director, Flowr
Canadian Cannabis Marketer Trends
This year’s top-five marketers is a true representation of the direction that the cannabis industry is headed in. Many of these individuals lead marketing efforts at mid-sized Licensed Producers and retailers. We are seeing these talented mid-sized producers eating up the market share of the bigger players (like Canopy and Aurora) as they focus on certain consumer segments and value propositions.
Notably, three out of five of these finalists are women. As a fairly new industry, cannabis has the chance to offer equal opportunities to individuals of any gender or identifiable group. It is fantastic to see women like Nicole, Danielle, and Bella leading the way and blazing a trail for the next generation of entrepreneurs and marketers.
The majority of these nominees also have some form of experience from either alcohol or other highly-regulated consumer packaged goods. The lessons learned from working with alcohol, tobacco, and similar companies are invaluable when applied to cannabis. Many of the same principles, regulations, and restrictions apply. Entrepreneurs and employees with this type of experience will likely continue to lead the charge in cannabis marketing.
Not all of these finalists necessarily have “personal brands” in the cannabis space, but each of them is doing important and challenging work on a daily basis. These five individuals and their peers will continue to push the evolution of cannabis creativity forward into the future. We look forward to observing and analyzing what they create.
Last Updated on December 30, 2020 by ADCANN