2021 Winner


That's Genius

BBDO Canada

SilverBranding Within Boundaries

How do you come in first, when you’re the last to the party? A few of the rules for branding cannabis in Canada: don’t draw lifestyle associations. Can’t suggest usage occasions. And don’t you dare mention product benefits. Amongst many more, talk about a tight sandbox.

In 2018 when recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, major Licensed Producers across the country were quick to jump at the opportunity to launch their brands in an attempt to scoop up the few obvious legal branding opportunities available, and ultimately try to capture early shares of the market.

Edison wasn’t so quick. As late comers to the game (over a year after legalization), early-to-market competition had exhausted the few untapped ways to position cannabis. Approaches like using double entendres (ex. Tweed’s tagline, ‘Hi.’), borrowing illicit market language (ex. ‘Sugar Leaf’ as brand name), and of course basing oneself in well-known cannabis tropes (ex. San Rafael '71’s use of ‘420 Forever’). All were taken, making a tight sandbox even smaller, and the need to find a unique positioning even more challenging.

Success for launching Edison would be uniquely positioning the brand within the allowable guardrails of the Canadian Cannabis Act, without compromising brand love and sales potential.
Their launch objectives were brand: uniquely build brand affinity, and business: use relevancy to motivate sales.

They took their late entry into the market as an opportunity to assess the category and carve out a white space they could own. To start, they looked to Deloitte’s deep dive on the emerging market to identify the various need states of consumers, cross-referenced with a customized study amongst Canadian cannabis users, and a review of positioning gaps amongst competition. This analysis exposed that almost all existing brands fulfilled need states that perpetuated stereotypes of cannabis. Yet, many consumers do not identify with, nor want to be profiled as the stereotypical ‘partier’, ‘stoner’ or ‘hippie’. In fact, more than half of Canadians avoid telling people they smoke to avoid stoner stigmas. This group is much more progressive and values innovation, creativity and the possibility of what cannabis can unlock and enable. To them, cannabis is sophisticated. It’s interesting. And so is life when they consume it.

Despite the stereotypes, cannabis can be smart. Genius takes many forms. Sometimes genius is an old dude toiling away in a lab. Sometimes genius is a perfect email to get you out of work on Friday. Or nailing the song order on your work playlist. And some of the best genius happens when you’re… well, you know.

They set out to make science sexy. Their platform was designed to show how Genius is in Edison’s DNA, from their unique production and growing techniques, to their thoughtful packaging, all while implying that by choosing smart cannabis, you’re choosing a brand that will help you unlock your own genius, too.
Using language like “The most important ingredient in every one of our plants? Data. That’s Genius.” and “Recycling up to 90% of our growing water? That’s Genius.”, a digital campaign on 19+ age-gated sites featured smart, teaser content that respected the Cannabis Act and directed consumers to their website; a sort of ‘genius lab’, where they could immerse themselves in what genius looks like for cannabis today.

Offline in print, at industry expos and in retail, the platform helped spread some genius, spanning all of Edison’s vast products and formats.
Working within the restrictions of the Cannabis Act, Edison invited their progressive audience to immerse themselves in the brand, what makes it different, and ultimately get a little smarter with them in doing so.

Although the guardrails set by the Canadian Cannabis Act are stringent, and despite being late to the game, their approach to brand building did not limit the potential for Edison.
Resulting from the first 6 months of launch, Edison had more brand love than any other top cannabis brand in the country: 62% vs. the category leader’s 43%; Edison was the most relevant brand for Canadian cannabis consumers: 72% of Consumers saying the brand is a good fit for them (vs. 61% category leader), and over-indexes on ‘shared-values’ at 123 vs. competition; and Edison’s strong equity reached the top 10% of cannabis brands in Canada. At 55%, Edison ranked #1 in having the highest awareness of conversion of all cannabis brands in Canada. Meaning, its positioning is the most effective of Canadian cannabis brands at driving sales. Now that’s genius.

Agency: BBDO Canada
Chief Creative Officer: Todd Mackie
Chief Creative Officer: Denise Rossetto
Senior VP, Creative Director: Derek Blais
Associate Creative Director/Copywriter: Rana Chatterjee
Associate Creative Director/Art Director: Jeff Cheung
Design Director: Mike Nugent
SVP, Planning: Tom Kenny
Planner: Alexandra Jo Heller
VP, Planning: Dan Koutoulakis
SVP, BBDO Brand Reputation, Business Director: Rebecca Flaman
Group Account Director: Tania Montemarano
Account Director: Stephanie Martins
Account Supervisor: Dan LaCute
Account Supervisor: Joel Werner

Sr. Project Manager: Sarah Ng
VP, Digital Production: Jason Dick
UX: Geoff Weeks
Director, Data Analytics and Insights: Curtis Rushing

Client: Organigram Inc.
Ray Gracewood, Former Senior VP Marketing & Communications
Julie Chamberlain, Former Executive VP of Marketing
Laura Houston, Senior Brand Manager
Tanya Kinney, Digital Experience Manager

VP, Director SGL Studios: Matt Eves
Sr Print Production Manager: Jennifer Wong
Retoucher: Jano Kirijian
Production Manager: Rob Quan
Production Artist: Jason Rooney
Retoucher: Kathy Lau
Production: Eileen Smith
Mac Artist: George Lai

Production Company: Flare Canada (BBDO)
Producer: Paul Fler
Director: Matt Eastman
Director of Photography: Ian Macmillan
Editor: Raquel Velasquez
Colourist: Roslyn Di Sisto
Audio: Mike Rosnick

Have questions? Need help?
Contact Rowan Traynor at 1-416-408-2300 x213 or rtraynor@brunico.com.