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Do Celebrity Weed Brands Sell?

This article was originally published on WeedWeek, and appears here with permission.

When Carlos Santana decided to launch a brand of premium cannabis products, the 10-time Grammy Award winner said he and his partners worked to ensure the products reflected the image the guitar icon spent decades cultivating within the music industry.

Santana, during a panel discussion presented Tuesday as part of the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Business Cyber Summit, talked about how the Mirayo brand – its name combines the Spanish words for “my” and “ray” – honors his mother and aims to uplift users by helping to bring out their own personal rays of light.

“Once you recognize your light, you’re able to create miracles and blessings,” he said, describing some of his own spiritual beliefs and experiences.

While Santana and his partners at Left Coast Ventures, an investment firm heavily involved in developing and acquiring cannabis brands, are confident the musician’s product line, released in October, will resonate with consumers, not everyone is as sold on the power of celebrity branding in cannabis.

Santana and Left Coast Ventures CEO Brett Cummings spent a portion of Tuesday’s discussion outlining the tremendous effort they put in to ensure the Mirayo brand would be seen as authentic and connect with Santana fans and others.

While some industry analysts agreed that a celebrity can provide a major boost to a brand, others in and around the industry are more skeptical about celebrity pot brands. Those same analysts were also divided on how celebrities will be involved in the industry going forward: Some predicted they would shift into more of an endorsement model similar to most mainstream industries, while others envision a future when the vast majority of celebrities in the space will be intimately involved in their own brands, like Santana.

“Having a celebrity brand may help get you to first base quicker than other start-ups, but in the long run, I would advise building a great brand with a high-quality product,” said Randall Huft, CEO of Innovation Agency, a public relations firm that builds brands. He recommends that brands consider using celebrity endorsements rather than building an entire brand around one celebrity,

Athlete endorsers?

Greg Huffaker, a director at Canna Advisors, a consulting firm for cannabis businesses, said celebrities in the cannabis industry typically fall into three camps: Silent investors whose personal brands don’t mesh with cannabis, celebrities who license their names for products but are otherwise uninvolved, and those who are passionate about the product and are heavily involved.

Huffaker said that …

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