How a major cannabis marketer pivoted during the pandemic –

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As it markets pot to the masses, cannabis company Cresco Labs has often relied on its secret weapon—Mindy Segal, a James Beard award-winning pastry chef who partnered with the company to make a line of cannabis-infused edibles called Mindy’s. The Chicago-based chef has touted the treats at live events, including one called “Flavor Trip,” that was held earlier this year at her restaurant, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, targeting retail buyers and other influencers in Chicago’s arts community. 

But those and other experiential events that are a cornerstone of cannabis marketing are now impossible with Illinois and other states where Cresco operates under lockdown due to the coronavirus. As a result, Cresco has had to overhaul its marketing. 

“We’ve moved from experiential and education that is more alive to experiential and education that now we are trying to do through content, through digital forms,” says Greg Butler, chief commercial officer at Cresco Labs, one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the U.S. 

Butler—who joined the Cresco Labs in early 2020 after stints at big advertisers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Molson Coors—explains on the latest episode of the “Ad Lib” podcast how the company has pivoted. He also breaks down Cresco’s portfolio approach, under which it has created distinct brands for what he sees as the three distinct segments of the cannabis industry: medical, wellness and recreational.

“We recognize that those consumers are very different in their needs,” he says. “That takes you away from a branded house into a house of brands, where we have different brands for different consumers, addressing different needs.”

As with many industries, the

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