Don’t Fear the Reefer


Toronto-based Hilco Consumer Capital won what many call the “holy grail of advertising,” reports NPR: the right to sell Bob Marley‘s name. The company partnered with the Marleys to begin rolling out Marley-branded products like salad dressing and a video game.

The obvious issue with the brand, as NPR puts it: “Marley was a major stoner.”

Hilco’s marketing team isn’t concerned. They don’t see the “Marley aesthetic” promoting drug use so much as a “relaxed lifestyle” — which, they tell NPR, lends itself well to selling things like snowboards and spices.

This brings up the question: if marijuana were ever legalized, would any existing companies jump to create their own lines of pot (think Marlboro Reefer or even Budweiser Bud)? Or would it take a while for them to feel comfortable associating their brand names with something formerly illegal?

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  1. Darshanand says:

    If/when pot gets legalized, there won’t be any shortage of willing suppliers competing tooth and nail for the chance at becoming the next coke.

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  2. Brooke says:

    This kind of thing makes me sad. Not only is it pasting someone’s face and name all over a product that has nothing to do with him, but he’s not even alive to give consent.

    I thought it odd when Paul Newman did it, but it was his own venture and he donated his profits to causes he believed in, so I guess I could understand. This Bob Marley example just seems like a money-grab on the part of his relatives.

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  3. logan says:

    Alcohol used to be illegal and when prohibition ended the majority of the companies that got back into brewing and distilling alcohol were the big companies. Hence the lack of variety for most of the 20th century.

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  4. aichem says:

    american advertisers embarassed? you must be kidding!

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  5. Jake says:

    Don’t worry – it’ll happen almost immediately.

    Marijuana could be immensely profitable for private enterprises AND the government – just as it currently is profitable for drug cartels and terrorist organizations.

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  6. Grant says:

    I think the question, though, #1 is whether any pre-existing brands would be willing to market marijuana under their aegis. I suspect that the answer is “yes.” Maybe not Bud or Marlboro, not immediately, but the companies that already make marijuana paraphernalia (like Philly Blunts, say) certainly would. And I’d be willing to bet that some of the alcohol companies that already cater to a youth/urban market, like malt liquor companies, say, would be on board pretty fast.

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  7. Zach says:

    I don’t know why, but McDonald’s/Chipotle comes to mind.

    That, or the question of who currently owns Chrysler.

    The cigarette industry giants will probably have secret wholly owned subsidiaries that take advantage of their technological, marketing and lobbying expertise to maximize the opportunities while minimizing the association. Come to think of it, those shadow companies must already exist. It’s such a good idea, how could they not be doing it?

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  8. Susan says:

    Thirty years ago I used to live and work in Winston Salem, NC (home of RJR Tobacco). It was conventional wisdom at the time that RJR had a secret warehouse located somewhere in the city that was stashed with, well, stash, just waiting for pot to be legalized.

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