Cann’s Holiday Ad Sees a Family Gathering Saved by Weed Soda

This recipe for disaster contains the following ingredients: disparate family members contained under one roof for an extended period, high-stress rituals like gift-giving and formal dining and copious amounts of alcohol.

Shake vigorously, and the result is as explosive as it is predictable.

Cann, the top-selling weed-laced soda with an A-list celebrity following, uses its annual end-of-year campaign to acknowledge what many people already know—the holidays can be a toxic stew of drunken conflict—and ask the question, “Why not get baked instead?”

In a scenario that’s heavily stylized and darkly comedic, Cann solves one family’s dramatic clash with its low-dose THC drinks and quick delivery from the new Jane cannabis shopping app.

The 3-minute video, written and directed by actor-filmmaker Lake Bell, features a diverse cast and an original song from Grizzly Bear’s Chris Bear. Raja Gemini, a makeup artist, model and past RuPaul’s Drag Race winner, appears as the “fairy cannmother,” providing the memorable line, “Merry microdosing, motherf*cker.”

While the nearly dialogue-free ad marks a creative shift for the brand, it continues the Cann positioning as a “social tonic” and an alternative to traditional liquor-based cocktails.

“We wanted to take the idea of a family gathering, which is a source of anxiety that some people dread and rely on alcohol to get through, and hold a magnifying glass up to it,” Luke Anderson, Cann co-founder, told Adweek. “It doesn’t look good from the outside.”

The short film, dubbed “Cann-Do Holiday,” goes from “moody and negative to dreamy and euphoric,” Anderson said. “It’s the before and after.”

Cheers, my dears

Cann’s latest work drops as THC-spiked drinks are surging nationally. Still a niche category—making up less than 2% of total cannabis sales—the products have exploded in popularity, hailed as sessionable and approachable, especially for the uninitiated. Along with edibles like gummies and chocolates, beverages are now considered “perennial winners” during the busy fourth quarter, per Headset.

On the recent Green Wednesday-Danksgiving long weekend, sales of weed sodas, seltzers, powders and cocktails jumped 13.2%, per Headset’s analysis of seven states. The year-end period could bring more of the same good tidings for the category, based on past performance; Headset says drinks saw a 16.6% boost at Christmas 2021.

Some particular bright spots: Sales grew an eye-popping 272% year over year in Michigan in 2022, according to Headset’s report, while states like Massachusetts, Washington and California saw double-digit bumps.

The data wasn’t all positive for the sector, though, with Headset noting that Nevada, Maryland, Oregon and Colorado saw demand drop. Meantime, the market has been flooded with new brands—an increase of 65% since January 2021—which could mean there’s more supply than demand or buyers are overwhelmed by their choices.

The researcher also said that consumers seem to be gravitating to the higher-dose drinks, where buyers get more bang for their buck.

Cann’s primary target has been the casual weed user, teetotalers (or the “Cali sober”) and the massive addressable audience that may not currently consume but would be open to try. The brand’s drinks, containing 2 milligrams to 5 milligrams of THC, could qualify as a good on-ramp for such potential buyers.

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Cann

Tastes better than eggnog

The average American drinks 27% more alcohol during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year, according to a recent study from Sunrise House, with 23% considering themselves “heavy drinkers” between Thanksgiving and New Year and 27% saying they consume stronger liquor during that time.

Cann means to address the outcome of such behavior and urge people to reconsider their relationship with alcohol, albeit in a rather light-hearted, high-concept way, with its video that stars Mickey Sumner (Snowpiercer, Frances Ha), Meg Stalter (Hacks), comedian Benito Skinner and actor Bre-Z among the eclectic cast.

Shot last month at a home in Los Angeles’ hip Silverlake neighborhood, “Cann-Do Holiday” is a collaboration between Cann’s internal team, Bell and production house London Alley.

The brand hosted a movie premiere-style party for the short film this week in Hollywood, along with a panel discussion on diversity (or the lack thereof) in the cannabis industry, featuring Cannaclusive’s Mary Pryor, Jane Technologies’ Socrates Rosenfeld, Cann investor and board member-actor Rosario Dawson, Bell and Anderson.

In casting the video, Bell talked about the importance of representation behind the scenes—she hired a female director of photography, among other women and people of color—as well as on-screen.

“Family looks like a multitude of different things, and not everyone looks the same,” Bell said during the session. “I wanted the creative to be sexy and fun and inclusive from every single vantage point, so it felt like it wasn’t elitist or isolating to anyone.”

“Cann-Do Holiday,” with the tagline, “You can’t change your family, but you cann change your drink,” will get a boost from a MedMen partnership, via outdoor ads and through Paper magazine’s YouTube channel. The video will be distributed on social and digital platforms.

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