Before he joined the cannabis industry, David Paleschuck put together a career that seemed destined for it. A skateboarder with an MBA, he learned about retail in stints at MasterCard and American Express. Then Pepsi hired him to better understand the surfers and skateboarders who are emblematic of its Mountain Dew brand.
After moving to Seattle, he worked in marketing for Microsoft. But when he saw friends leaving the tech world for cannabis, he joined Dope Magazine with the goal of turning them “from bros to pros.” He focused on putting folks like Whoopi Goldberg and Bernie Sanders on the cover to broaden its audience, before leaving to become CMO at Evergreen Herbal where he developed brands for Washington’s liberal coast and conservative inland. Now he’s Group Chief Branding Officer at The Matters Group.
Paleschuck’s new book, Branding Bud: The Commercialization of Cannabis, is a compendium of what he’s learned from a decade in the industry with in-depth examinations of many prominent brands. He recently shared a few thoughts with WeedWeek:
- He’s isn’t a fan of celebrity brands “if it’s a name slap” but he has counted 53 brands and believe some, like Seth Rogen’s Houseplant are “happening.”
- In the future he sees the industry playing out as a drama of industry vs. ingredient “and the answer is both.” On one side he sees craft brands that will “remain close to the plant” and on the other multi-nationals who want to incorporate cannabis as an ingredient in existing products. “Both ends are working towards the middle,” he said.
- To be a meaningful brand, he said manufacturers need to do at least two things which may be contrary to how they normally think: 1) Know who your consumer is, which he says is contrary to how many brands think. 2) Know the consumers “need state or ritual.”