Growing up in a legacy community, I’d never in a million years have imagined that I’d be at an awards show dedicated to the people who market and advertise weed. So I had some sense of wonder as I stepped through the door of the glittering MGM Ballroom last night.
Clio Cannabis, the global awards competition which recognizes excellence in marketing and advertising for the cannabis industry, was hosting a cocktail hour before their 2022 awards ceremony in Las Vegas, and the ballroom was crowded with cannabis brand owners and creatives.
The first thing I noticed was that the people of the cannabis industry interpret “red carpet event” in all sorts of ways, which should come as no surprise given this industry’s complex origin story. Looks ranged from neon spandex and ruffles to bejeweled ballgowns to full cowboy. The point in common? Almost everyone was bringing it. Which again could be a metaphor for the industry.
One of my favorite outfits, a bright pink shorts suit, happened to be sported by Rachel Boykins, who works in marketing for MXXN, is on the board of the Cannabis Media Council, and was one of the judges for this year’s awards.
“The first part of the judging is done solo,” she explained. “And then to get together as a group it was really eye-opening – just the diversity of thought that comes with the cannabis industry, and how our past experiences and challenges really shape how we view work and how we appreciate it.”
Speaking of outfits, I was delighted to see Clio Cannabis Executive Director Michael Kauffman take the stage in an Elvis costume. Which Elvis? Vegas Elvis, of course. With great fanfare, Kauffman and other presenters awarded Grand Clio Cannabis trophies to representatives from Weedmaps, Show-Me Organics, SERVICEPLAN GERMANY, and Jung von Matt AG. A total of 109 Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners were simultaneously revealed at www.cliocannabisawards.com.
Berner took to the stage to accept the 2022 Honorary Clio Cannabis Award for shaping popular culture, championing the benefits of cannabis, and paving the way for better understanding of the marketplace. He was met with a standing ovation and gave a heartfelt speech which ended in laughter when he said he wasn’t going to let go of that trophy and that we could expect to see it on his table at dinner.
Sam D’Arcangelo, Director of Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project, was also on hand to accept the 2022 Clio Cannabis Impact Award. The organization was recognized for their efforts to inform, register and turn out voters who are interested in cannabis policy and their work to ensure that the cannabis community is an active and informed voting bloc. Sam gave a compelling speech about our ability to turn the tide and create smarter and more humane cannabis policy.
Germany’s Jung von Matt AG won Agency of the Year for their extremely amusing campaign to normalize cannabis use. Brand of the Year went to Cann for their inclusive, neon-bright ad campaigns. The show took a turn to the emotional when Luke Anderson accepted the award and talked about his mom, who passed away recently but was a champion of his work, applauding his mission of inclusivity. The love and support in the room was palpable.
“This year we had more entries than ever before,” said Michael Kauffman. “And we saw some incredible work from across the globe. For example, we gave out trophies to two German agencies tonight and we had other winners from places like Canada, UK, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Croatia.”
“In particular, the work that earned tonight’s Grand Clio Cannabis Awards represent such a wide spectrum of ideas—from a hyper-local partnership for a niche market, to a campaign spreading awareness about a regulatory challenge that the whole industry faces. It just goes to show that creativity can help solve all types of problems, and our aim is to celebrate the inherent value of the creative process,” Kauffman continued.
And celebrate we did.