Can B Real break the celebrity brand hex?

By Alex Halperin
Jul 6, 2022
B Real showing off his Insane brand, Courtesy Dr. Green Thumb

The newsletter One Weed Please recently asked Headset to pull data on celebrity brand sales and the results came back very clear: No one is smoking it. Only one celeb brand, Seth Rogen’s Houseplant, made the top 100. Cypress Hill’s B Real thinks his Dr. Greenthumb’s dispensary and premium Insane brand can be an exception.

SoCal-native B Real’s arrival in the cannabiz had an air of inevitability. He’s been rapping about the plant since the early 1990s and is one of the movement’s most exalted cultural icons. But unimpeachable street cred hasn’t been enough for Willie Nelson, Bob Marley and plenty of other brands that haven’t lit the world on fire.

Dr. Greenthumb’s Chief Revenue Officer Travis Howard, who joined the company in early 2021, said the dispensary started putting up numbers immediately when its first shop opened in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Sylmar.

However, it grew fast with handshake deals, Howard, who has practiced law, said. “It kind of happened to him rather than him building it.” There were disparate goals and stakeholders. Howard’s goal was to restructure the company so that it could last.

  • “Authenticity has to be paired with autonomy,” Howard said. Crucially, B Real had to retain control of his brand marks.
  • “We do not want there to be any chance of investor takeover, or outside influence controlling the brand trajectory,” he said.
  • A longtime Cypress Hill fan, Howard said the group “gave me permission to be myself” growing up in Wyoming. “B is the culture,” Howard said.

It can be challenging to embody the culture while trying to build a national footprint. “I know as we get bigger, we’re going to get tested in areas,” Howard said. One way the brand hopes to keep in touch with the grassroots is by spotlighting their growers in different states.

  • QR codes on Dr. Greenthumb’s packaging link to videos introducing the farmers.

The California market is “brutal,” Howard said, and he expects it to get worse as prices could drop further. But he thinks his experience in Colorado will be instructive.

  • “We don’t have any answers or silver bullets but we’re aware of what’s coming,” he said.