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The High Holy Day

The High Holy Day

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

April 17, 2018

Aunt Mary Shares Her “Basil” Growing Tips

"This challenge only fueled our process."

Friday marks the cannabis culture’s high holiday, 4/20—the day when weed aficionados and newbies across the world will participate in cannabis-related activities and events.

Just in time for the unofficial holiday, Havas Montréal is rolling out a new campaign for Mighty Blend, a potting mix ideal for growing cannabis. The new brand is looking to attract urban gardeners in the United States striving for a, ahem, higher yield.

The brand is entering the states where cannabis will become legal this spring, primarily California and Colorado.

The campaign features Aunt Mary, an expert in indoor gardening, in a series of delirious tutorials aimed at helping Internet users grow, “basil.”

We spoke with Havas Montréal Creative Director Adriana Palanca about the campaign and the challenges the team faced in marketing a cannabis-related product.

Can you tell us a little about how this offbeat campaign came to be?

Last year, our client—a family-owned business selling growing media for more than 55 years—stumbled upon a new product. They noticed that one particular tomato mix was selling extremely well to growers of cannabis in the U.S. for medicinal use. With the legalized use of cannabis expanding into more American states, they saw an opportunity and made the leap from B2B to B2C with Mighty Blend. Havas Montréal was there to help them create a compelling consumer-facing brand with a strong narrative.

How difficult is it to advertise a cannabis product?

The campaign that we proposed was built around a series of tutorial-style videos with an experienced recreational cannabis grower—Aunt Mary. The major obstacle was that Facebook is extremely strict about any mention of cannabis, including all of its nicknames. We had to write and film a script about growing cannabis that could in no way mention cannabis. Otherwise, they could pull our video offline. But this challenge only fueled our process.

"We are speaking to an audience that requires something more unusual to pique their interests."

Restrictions can sometimes be good for creativity. How did not being able to mention cannabis help you?

Since cannabis growing is still part of a counterculture, we are speaking to an audience that requires something more unusual to pique their interests. Having to contort ourselves creatively actually served us well.

There was no way we could do something traditional—or even approach it in a traditional way. So we combined some funny copywriting with trippy animation design, references to meme culture, and creative sound editing to make this visually stimulating, yet informative video.

The director and animation designer took a very experimental approach called “disrupt mashup.” The overall effect is deliberately turbulent and distorted to mimic the physical experience of cannabis consumption. Certain elements were duplicated or amplified, often infinitely, and even the sounds were repeated or manipulated to create a hypnotic narrative that plays on our perceptions. I highly suggest watching it more than once. You’ll notice something new every time.

Was there any hesitation from the client?

Our client was open to anything from the start. In fact, when the client saw the first cut, she actually commented that we hadn’t pushed the animation far enough. Creative decisions were made together and everyone, from the director to the project managers, felt respected throughout. It truly was a dream collaboration.

Are there any funny stories that you can share about this ad that featured Aunt Mary, an over-the-top expert in indoor gardening?

As a female creative director, I was thrilled to give such a plum role to a female talent of a certain age. Claire Saint-Jacques is an accomplished actress, performer, and musician. She arrived on set with four musical instruments, and the promise of plenty more at home, and as the shoot continued into the afternoon, while the millennials were looking for a nap, she maintained her energy and good humor throughout.

What’s next for the campaign?

We have a vision for Mighty Blend. There are so many different ways that we can continue to innovate with this brand, but that will depend on how the market and legislation evolve in the coming year. There are definitely more videos planned.

"This challenge only fueled our process."

Friday marks the cannabis culture’s high holiday, 4/20—the day when weed aficionados and newbies across the world will participate in cannabis-related activities and events.

Just in time for the unofficial holiday, Havas Montréal is rolling out a new campaign for Mighty Blend, a potting mix ideal for growing cannabis. The new brand is looking to attract urban gardeners in the United States striving for a, ahem, higher yield.

The brand is entering the states where cannabis will become legal this spring, primarily California and Colorado.

The campaign features Aunt Mary, an expert in indoor gardening, in a series of delirious tutorials aimed at helping Internet users grow, “basil.”

We spoke with Havas Montréal Creative Director Adriana Palanca about the campaign and the challenges the team faced in marketing a cannabis-related product.

Can you tell us a little about how this offbeat campaign came to be?

Last year, our client—a family-owned business selling growing media for more than 55 years—stumbled upon a new product. They noticed that one particular tomato mix was selling extremely well to growers of cannabis in the U.S. for medicinal use. With the legalized use of cannabis expanding into more American states, they saw an opportunity and made the leap from B2B to B2C with Mighty Blend. Havas Montréal was there to help them create a compelling consumer-facing brand with a strong narrative.

How difficult is it to advertise a cannabis product?

The campaign that we proposed was built around a series of tutorial-style videos with an experienced recreational cannabis grower—Aunt Mary. The major obstacle was that Facebook is extremely strict about any mention of cannabis, including all of its nicknames. We had to write and film a script about growing cannabis that could in no way mention cannabis. Otherwise, they could pull our video offline. But this challenge only fueled our process.

"We are speaking to an audience that requires something more unusual to pique their interests."

Restrictions can sometimes be good for creativity. How did not being able to mention cannabis help you?

Since cannabis growing is still part of a counterculture, we are speaking to an audience that requires something more unusual to pique their interests. Having to contort ourselves creatively actually served us well.

There was no way we could do something traditional—or even approach it in a traditional way. So we combined some funny copywriting with trippy animation design, references to meme culture, and creative sound editing to make this visually stimulating, yet informative video.

The director and animation designer took a very experimental approach called “disrupt mashup.” The overall effect is deliberately turbulent and distorted to mimic the physical experience of cannabis consumption. Certain elements were duplicated or amplified, often infinitely, and even the sounds were repeated or manipulated to create a hypnotic narrative that plays on our perceptions. I highly suggest watching it more than once. You’ll notice something new every time.

Was there any hesitation from the client?

Our client was open to anything from the start. In fact, when the client saw the first cut, she actually commented that we hadn’t pushed the animation far enough. Creative decisions were made together and everyone, from the director to the project managers, felt respected throughout. It truly was a dream collaboration.

Are there any funny stories that you can share about this ad that featured Aunt Mary, an over-the-top expert in indoor gardening?

As a female creative director, I was thrilled to give such a plum role to a female talent of a certain age. Claire Saint-Jacques is an accomplished actress, performer, and musician. She arrived on set with four musical instruments, and the promise of plenty more at home, and as the shoot continued into the afternoon, while the millennials were looking for a nap, she maintained her energy and good humor throughout.

What’s next for the campaign?

We have a vision for Mighty Blend. There are so many different ways that we can continue to innovate with this brand, but that will depend on how the market and legislation evolve in the coming year. There are definitely more videos planned.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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