Rolling Stone is teaming with Select, the cannabis lifestyle brand owned by Curaleaf, on a range of cannabis products.
The line, dubbed Rolling Stone by Select, includes two formats: a pre-roll (a first for Select), and a pod system, each available in three different cannabis strains: “Overdrive” (a sativa), “Reverb” (an indica), and “Phaser” (a hybrid). The products are initially launching in dispensaries in Nevada, with plans to expand into other states.
As Curaleaf refocuses its resources on normalizing cannabis usage, partnering with a media brand had very specific benefits, said Joe Bayern, chief executive officer of Curaleaf.
“We believe the next step in cannabis development is changing some of the social perceptions around cannabis use, and removing the stigma of cannabis,” Bayern said. “Rolling Stone has really been active in the space of helping to change social perception around key issues for 50 years.”
Gus Wenner, president and chief operating officer of Rolling Stone — which, like WWD, is owned by Penske Media Corp. — agreed that cannabis has been ingrained in the publication’s DNA for decades.
“In the ’70s, there was a subscription promotional offer where you get a roach clip if you subscribed,” Wenner said. “Cannabis has been a part of Rolling Stone’s history, and music and cannabis have also had a long relationship with one another.”
Equally, cannabis made sense for Rolling Stone given its extensive reporting on the plant’s legalization in the U.S. “We’ve covered the legalization of cannabis probably more extensively than most,” Wenner added.
The collaboration is the most recent effort from Rolling Stone to capture consumers outside of media. In September 2020, the brand debuted a collection of branded merchandise. Although cannabis is the brand’s first foray into consumer packaged goods, Wenner is eyeing several more for expansion.
“If you can do products in an authentic way that actually aligns with your values and journalism as a publisher, there can be a lot of success. Equally, if it’s an area of expertise,” Wenner said.
That being said, Wenner isn’t planning on going all-in on product manufacturing. “We’re not a CPG company, and our expertise is in journalism and editorial. We always want that to be our main focus,” he said.
Both Bayern and Wenner said traditional marketing avenues, like social media, were unavailable to the companies given regulation around cannabis products. Storytelling, Bayern said, was an advantage to partnering with a media brand.
“Since we cover the subject so much from an editorial perspective, we’re working within the guidelines of how you can and cannot market a cannabis product, but our own internal guidelines around marketing and editorial,” Wenner said. “But, we have a lot of ways to engage our audience, our reader and our consumer.”
Bayern added that the partnership is merely in phase one, and a joint statement from both the company and Rolling Stone alluded to a retail concept headed to Las Vegas in 2022.
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