By John Schroyer
Ancillary cannabis firm PotCoin grabbed national media attention in mid-June when it sponsored former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s highly publicized trip to North Korea.
The coverage was considered a coup as major mainstream outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post and Business Insider picked up the story.
Moreover, most if not all also published photos or videos that featured Rodman wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with PotCoin’s name and website. Rodman even tweeted a message of thanks to PotCoin.
The coverage generated by PotCoin could even serve as an example for other marijuana companies on how to drum up publicity.
“When you look at it in a certain sense, it is truly genius to get the name out there,” said Lily Colley, vice president of public relations for cannabis real estate firm Kalyx Development and also marketing director for edibles maker Medically Correct.
Interest in PotCoin’s cryptocurrency has dramatically increased since Rodman’s trip, according to the company.
“We’ve been getting a huge flow of dispensaries looking to use PotCoin as a payment method,” PotCoin spokesman Shawn Peretz said. “PotCoin has been getting a lot of awareness. The buzz has still been going on.”
Limited marketing options
Such mainstream exposure is invaluable, Colley said, in large part because advertising and marketing options are so limited for cannabis-related companies.
“In the marijuana industry, being in marketing, your job is to be creative and come up with ways to either connect with influencers or do more guerrilla activations, because the legalities of (other marketing options) are so limiting … that there are no alternate ways to make these touchpoints with people,” Colley said.
“In a space like this, you can’t just do traditional sponsorships or PR outreach or advertisements. (PotCoin) couldn’t have taken out an ad at the Super Bowl.”
It wasn’t the Super Bowl, but Denver-based CBD firm VeedVerks sponsored a racecar driven earlier this month by the grandson of late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.
All eyes, however, have been on PotCoin, which “killed it” from a marketing perspective with Rodman, said John Ramsay, the CEO of Denver-based Center Mass Media, a cannabis-focused marketing firm.
“They are now a global name. I mean, global,” Ramsay said. “Everybody heard that PotCoin sponsored (Rodman’s trip). They (Rodman’s entourage) were wearing PotCoin shirts, and the visibility for a brand-new currency to hit the market, they definitely got major visibility.”
That visibility continued, according to Peretz, who noted that PotCoin received additional exposure when Rodman appeared on the national TV show Good Morning America wearing a PotCoin ballcap. PotCoin even got a YouTube video out of Rodman’s trip.
Peretz declined to disclose details of the sponsorship deal, including how much the organization paid.
Colley estimated acquiring the services of a big name like Rodman would cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and, perhaps, some equity in PotCoin.
Whether the short-term attention translates into long-term benefits for the cryptocurrency organization remains an open question, both Colley and Ramsay said.
“I see remnants of the Cannabis Church (in Denver), where you’re grabbing headlines for a limited amount of time,” Colley said. “But after that, it’s going to be a matter of executing to see if this currency can become a viable alternative to anything else.
“From a marketing perspective, (PotCoin) managed to achieve what they’ve set out to do, which is to get people talking about it. Now it’s on the operations side to move forward.”
Ramsay agreed, though he also noted the overall value of the sponsorship “could have been completely idiotic” given Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recently publicized interest in potentially prosecuting marijuana companies.
“But at the same time,” Ramsay added, “it did bring a lot of visibility to the industry.”
Keep the momentum going
Both analysts said the onus is now on PotCoin to prove the value of its cryptocurrency to businesses in the marijuana space, especially considering such payment forms have not gained much traction in the industry.
Peretz said the number of businesses either using or looking into using PotCoin is growing “by the day.” He noted that medical marijuana companies in Las Vegas and San Francisco are using PotCoin, as is a licensed MMJ producer in Canada.
The organization “has been getting flooded by emails, tweets, messages for dispensaries wanting to accept PotCoin,” Peretz said.
However, the number of businesses utilizing PotCoin is still quite small, Peretz said, with only about 15 currently using it in the United States and Canada. That number has increased from 10 in mid-June, he said.
PotCoin’s cryptocurrency spiked once the Rodman sponsorship was announced, according to Coinmarketcap.com. The value of PotCoins rose from about 6 cents in early May to about 18 cents on June 13, when the Rodman sponsorship became public. PotCoins then dropped to about 13 cents, where the price seems to have stabilized.
John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]@mjbizdaily.com