Celebrity Sponsored Marijuana: Not Too Many Takers

imgres-2In Colorado, Celebrity Sponsored Pot is the new trend, but is it working?

In an attempt for marijuana businesses to develop unique brands, some are turning to imgres-1celebrity power. However, the business idea of celebrity power may not be as powerful as they think. The sponsors mentioned were unheard of to me. There was a musician who I feel I’m suppose to know and some guy eating an energy bar, not exactly the celebrity power needed for me to buy a joint.

John Quelch, a Harvard marketing professor famous for his case study, “Marketing Marijuanaimgres in Colorado”  mentions in the article that this method won’t be sustainable. Although Quelch thinks it will help differentiate the brands  in an already saturated market, he worries that consumers will be one-off buyers rather than the committed consumer needed for the marijuana business to grow. However, before celebrities can truly encourage buying it’s important to discuss the legal implications of the marijuana business that should be considered before a celebrity gets behind this movement.

All popularity aside, marijuana is still federally illegal. This rather large elephant in the room certainly brings risk to those celebrities associating with a brand at a state-level. And what about tobacco? Currently, there are no celebrities (to my knowledge) on billboards and tv commercials promoting tobacco sales, so why promote smoking in another form?

Fact of the matter is, popularity aside, marijuana is still the new product to the market and government relations are continuously changing around the controversial herb. The businesses in the few legal states might get away with selling bars and brownies, but this is a product mainly used for smoking, which needs to further explored for safety and long-term effects before this leafy green can truly become a booming industry (legally speaking).

If I were a celebrity, pro-pot or not aside, there are too many unanswered questions and future issues that would deter me from contributing my celeb power to a marijuana business brand.

The emotional side of marketing

Lindsay Kolowich discusses how the emotional side of marketing can be a powerful tool to engage your audience. The below link will take you directly to the article:

12 Video Marketing & Advertising Campaigns You’ll Actually Enjoy Watching

In the article, there are 12 video campaigns that reveal a different marketing experience than the normal 10 out of 12 dentists recommend… Matter of fact some of these campaigns have won big time awards like an Emmy and the Cannes Grand Prix. Why is that? Campaigns can transcend a products utility have more use in consumers every day lives. Consumers want products that they can connect with and integrate into their lives seamlessly.

@lkolo25 writes “Find out how people are using your product or service to better their lives, and share their inspiring stories with the world through video. They’ll do a much better job of advocating for your product or service’s value than a piece of purely fact-based marketing content ever could.”

Each of these videos display a particular connection with the audience, whether it is the Dove’s Like a Girl campaign or Android’s Friends Furever. Product marketing has to move past the first date phase and move directly into building a relationship. It is essential for consumers to see themselves in the products they are consuming or believe that the products they are purchasing can help tell their own story. Individuality is another key aspect of product consumption. Why does product X allow me to do more or give me more time to do Y.

Lindsay Kolowich (@lkolo25) does a great job of disseminating the emotional draw for each of the marketing campaigns and what each take away should be. It is a fun read and surely useful for anyone looking at the emotional side of marketing!


5 Marketing Lessons from HBO’s Silicon Valley

(Warning: Spoilers)


HBO’s Silicon Valley is a hilarious hit show that may, or may not, represent the real Silicon Valley. It just grabbed 11 nominations for the upcoming Emmy awards. It is no doubt great TV, however, within the show, there are real marketing lessons.

1) Be customer-centric not product-centric

Many innovators believe their products will sell themselves. A “build it and they will come” mind set. Most of the time this is not true.

Pied Piper created revolutionary compression software. However, it’s incredibly complex, hard to integrate, and all the work is behind the scenes and not visible to the consumer (Gourville, 2006).

2) Have Vision

Every company needs to be able to explain their product effectively and efficiently. It is important to provide an easily understood picture of your brand and demonstrate value to the customer (Gupta, 2014).

Throughout the series Pied Piper and Hoolie have trouble articulating the product to anyone who is not an engineer. They don’t have a good vision for the product they want to create, just the technical background specs.

3) Have a targeted marketing strategy

Michael Porter defines strategy as: “the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities.” A good strategic position meets the needs of a targeted group of people.

Pied Piper doesn’t have a specific type of product offering, or demographic to sell to. Richard wants to serve all the needs of everyone. This is too broad, and is ultimately unsuccessful. Many of the problems they face with launching their company could be fixed with a targeted strategy (Porter, 1996).

4) Listen to Market Research

Unbiased, thorough, and strategic market research can help a firm segment their potential customers, and tailor their products to customer needs to create value (Dolan & John, 2015).

Pied Piper and Hoolie constantly believe their products are perfect. All of their market research (the little they do) tells them their products are too complicated, not user friendly, or not working properly, yet they don’t listen. Pied Piper sends their beta to only engineers, who love it, but the first few end customers that try it, are turned off.

5) Don’t Cheat

Just don’t.


$More Marketing Insights from TEAM MONEY$

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant Can Play on the Same Team and Still Sell Sneakers

Good Blogging Review

Work Cited:

Dolan, R., & John, L. (2015). Marketing Intelligence. Harvard Business Publishing.

Gourville, J. (2006). Note of Innovation Diffusion: Rogers’ Five Factors. Harvard Business School, 2.

Gupta, S. (2014). Creating Customer Value. Harvard Business Publishing.

Porter, M. (1996). What Is Strategy. Harvard Business Review.


Digital Drinkers Week in Review

Happy Friday!


This week, the Digital Drinkers posted compelling and fun, mostly long-form, content.   


Who are the Digital Drinkers? Meet the team and their first posts.



sophia basketballSophia, our resident sports fan and Portland Trail Blazers expert, wrote in-depth about how the Blazers brand awareness and ticket sales strategy have helped them maintain regional popularity.



davidDavid, our Portland real estate guru, started his 3-part-series on the Do’s and Don’ts of real estate investing.



laurenLauren, our runner extraordinaire, has begun training for the Disney Half Marathon and she’s chronicling her journey here.




melissaMelissa, our bendy acrobat, wrote about her flexibility transformation and building a social media following.




To celebrate the end of the work-week, hit up a beer festival in the area and check out our guide to surviving a festival. 


Pokemon Go BallThe controversial organization, PETA (Protection for Equivalent Theoretical Animals), has managed to rally citizen support to protest and block several Pokémon Go events scheduled in Portland, Oregon, on the basis that monsters qualify as “theoretical animals” and that Seekers, in pursuit of points, status and otherwise basic irrational and illogical storytelling opportunities, will resort to irrational, illogical and virtual fantasy activities as they prey on innocent virtual creatures unable to defend themselves.

LET OUR POKEMON GO GO!   jail pokemon

Signs of Pokémon Go monsters contained in squalid cages and fed items with virtually no substance are popping up everywhere. Worse, in a demonstration of how low seekers will fall, “monster-fights” reminiscent of the dog fights that got old basketball players almost arrested have been seen in the back alleys of one of America’s greatest cities.  The conditions are perceived as horrible, with poor monsters gripping bars and crying out for their families.  In a worst-case situation, a baby monster was separated from its mother before it could flee its hunters.

pokemon#2Other groups attempting to capitalize on the event have even started a “slave labor” camp for captured monsters, selling them on Craig’s List for virtual bucks.  Enslaved monsters are expected to ensure harsh working conditions while captors and seekers seduced into this unsavory world go out in pursuit of even more monsters.  It’s an awful situation as wild and carefree monsters are struck down in the middle of their natural habitat, with little time to defend themselves from the “slaying ball” that is used to swipe them away.  As one concerned citizen reported, Pokémon Go monsters are even starting to show up in  historically human red light districts.  Poor PokemonRepublicans across the country are in an uproar as questions of equality for animals and citizens’ concern for these imaginary creatures takes priority over what they have long considered to be a more important agenda while Democrats are looking to expand universal health care programs to include Pokemom Go Monster Dads, Moms and kids alike.


As the Pokémon Go phenomenon has exponentially accelerated in the last few days, pokemon fieldreports of Seekers getting creamed is also increasing, to include (most recently) a group in Salem, Oregon that found themselves standing in the middle of Liberty Street in the front of the firehouse, trying to climb up the fireman’s pole in search of an evasive and illusive creature.  Seems that Seekers may not be using a lot “upstairs” as they look for PokeStops and through Lures out to grab yet another poor, defenseless monster.  But, the monsters are starting to get creative and gang up on Seekers.

In yet another unreported incident, four ridiculously cute monsters threw their own “lure” out to catch a few unsuspecting Seekers.  Using the guise of a broken paw, one monster lay await in a green circle as the Seekers approached.  Just as the swipe of the ball was about to happen, three other monsters ran out and jumped on top of the Seekers, scaring the bejeezus out of them, causing them to lose their phone and of course, their corresponding identity. (Anyone looking for a Samsung XII should call the local authorities).   It’s only a matter of time before massive uprisings between man and beast lead us all to lock ourselves in our shelters and wait to see who wins.


PETA, founded by M.N Sterious, an 84 year old member of the Portland community, is dedicated to the protection of virtual reality of any form.  M.N. Sterious planned and coordinated the Portland Pokémon Go blockade using age-old wisdom combined with helpful hints from Google search engine.  Demands for a release of all caged Pokémon Go monsters must be met before the blockades are removed.   As in all things fantastical, the PETA group has staged a virtual hunger strike with hopes to gain attention of those who are oblivious to this ridiculous condition.   It certainly grasped this author’s attention!

For more information on PETA, look no further.  You won’t find anything anyway.  Meanwhile, stay OFF THE STREETS, OUT OF TREES, AWAY FROM FIREHOUSES…oh yeah – all that advice assumes people are using their heads when playing this game.  That’s where we went wrong!

Barbies’ Got a Brand New….Image!?


When I was a kid, I can clearly remember my sister played with Barbies with her friends.  They spent hours dressing they’re Barbies in preparation for an upcoming vacation, a wedding or a New York fashion show.  Times were pretty simple back in the late 70’s and early 80’s; we didn’t have the internet, social media or mobile connectivity that today’s kids take for granted.  Mattel, the maker of the Barbie doll, had a huge hit on its hands and was rapidly expanding the brand from dolls and accessories into a multimedia entertainment powerhouse and branded product juggernaut.

Last year for my daughter’s sixth birthday she received a Barbie doll from her friend. My sweet little girl was ecstatic, but my wife and I were less than thrilled.  You see our generation has come to associate Barbie with a blond materialistic bimbo. My wife and I are adamant that our daughter is influenced by strong, intelligent and compassionate female role models (actual and fictional).  It turns out we aren’t the only ones since 2009 Barbie’s market share has been declining with the steepest coming after 2014 which has Mattel shifting its strategic marketing of the brand to align better with modern consumer perceptions.


So, how do you update an iconic brand to keep up with today’s societal norms while still retaining the value of the established brand equity?

1)      Active listening and engagement with your market.

Issue:  Consumers felt that the blonde, buxom skinny Barbie didn’t represent the current demographic.

Tactic  Mattel asked consumers what they liked and what didn’t like about the Barbie doll using various consumer research venues

Action:  In January Mattel unveiled a new line of Barbies with various skin tones, body shapes, and hair types

2)      Establish an identity that is fluent with your audience.

Issue: Research showed that her reputation for materialism had alienated the brand

Tactic: Mattel conducted product testing of different product identities that matched societal trends

Action: Mattel is using advertising to shift perceptions towards a more imaginative, creative play environment that is less focused on stuff

3)      Build the brand into a lifestyle platform that communicates hope and inspires positive action.

Issue: Mattel previously focused their marketing at 5-7-year-old girls realized the need to target parents (specifically nostalgic moms)

Tactic: Televised ads during TV shows like Dancing with the Stars showing a young girl pretending to lecture her dolls about the scientific properties of the human brain

Action: Target nostalgic moms and their need for esteem and self-actualization through the daughters exploration of advanced life possibilities

4)      Innovate, Innovate, and Innovate with flawless execution and impeccable timing.

Issue: Mattel will attempt to shatter the image that Barbie is a dumb blond

Tactic: Mattel will unveil a new line of Barbie Dolls that symbolize leadership and compassionate power

Action: This week Mattel unveiled President, and Vice President dolls coupled with a worksheet that gets parents and daughters talking about leadership and politics

5)      Stand for a cause.

Issue: Mattel needed to link the Barbie brand with a social cause

Tactic: Mattel partnered with the non-profit – She Should Run which works to get more women interested in politics

Action: Partnering with the nonprofit She Should Run will appeal to Moms who want to empower their daughter for any challenge

6)      Leave a legacy.

Issue: When you think of Barbies current legacy it is not very flattering

Tactic: Mattel is attempting to change the legacy from an antiquated gender stereotype into a world leading women

Action: Mattel has established an advisory council to advise the Barbie brand managers on advancing women empowerment issues and topics

While the full results are still 6-8 months away, the Barbie brand has increased sales momentum in starting in the second half of 2015 going into the first quarter of 2016.  The possible election of a female President would likely increase the demand for a Presidential Barbie drawing much needed positive brand awareness and momentum to Mattel’s efforts to shift the perception of this storied brand.

The question will be: Has Mattel done enough to change the opinion of my wife and me when it comes time for my Daughter’s 7th birthday in September?  I honestly don’t mind buying my daughter a Barbie that represents a positive female role model whether it is a World Leader, Scientist, Soccer star or Mother makes no difference. What is most important is that it comes with the message that my daughter should feel healthy about who she is and capable of achieving any objective that she could imagine.

Who is Mike Pence?

Governor Mike Pence
Donald Trump’s expected VP running mate, Mike Pence

Donald Trump has likely chosen Republican Mike Pence as his Vice President running mate. Here’s what you need to know about Mike Pence.

Quick Facts:

  • Michael Richard “Mike” Pence, born June 7, 1959
  • Family: wife Karen Pence, one son, two daughters
  • Religion: Evangelicalism
  • Attorney who graduated from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in 1986
  • Served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001- 2013
  • Governor of Indiana since 2013
  • Ran against John Boehner in 2006 for the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, lost by a large margin
  • In 2008, he was listed as one of the top ten legislators by Esquire Magazine
  • Has been listed as a potential running mate for both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections
  • Part of the Tea Party Movement
  • S. House committee assignments have included: Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Middle East and South Africa, Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. (This experience is likely to help Trump’s short comings in foreign policy)
  • Supporter of earmark reform
    • Secured earmarks for the ‘Transit Acquisition and Intermodal Facility Project,’ construction of a park in Portland, inclusion in a bill for labor-health and human services
  • Co-sponsor of the 2011 spending limit amendment to the U.S. Constition
  • In support of increased border security, laws against hiring illegal immigrants and guest worker programs
  • Supported the Iraq Resolution
  • Opposes closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp
  • Has supported Israel on a number of occasions and considers them to be “America’s most cherished ally”
  • Is in opposition of LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, civil unions, Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, and aid money intended to go towards preventing the spread of the HIV virus
  • Is strongly against reproductive rights for women
  • May keep Trump in check! Pence has been vocal at saying Trump’s Muslim ban is a terrible idea

What do you think?  Is Mike Pence the right VP pick for Donald Trump?

How does Mike Pence fit into the Trump Brand?http://www.npr.org/2016/07/14/485982230/does-trump-s-business-prowess-mean-he-can-improve-the-u-s-economy

Good Marketing Blogging: Kissmetrics

Kissmetrics is an online marketing firm that helps firms optimize, track, and analyze their digital marketing campaigns. They also run a helpful, insightful, and popular blog covering digital marketing topics. In learning about successful digital marketing the Kissmetrics blog has been a treasure-trove of information.

I’m going to analyze one blog post that stuck out to me: How Brands Can Take Advantage of Snapchat (infographic).

The post is written by Zach Bulygo (@zachcb1), the blog manager for Kissmetrics. This blog post is a very good example of a basic informational post. Writing about the basics of a topic can be difficult, especially for someone who knows a lot about how it works. Zach combines helpful text with an excellent infographic.

The Text:

Zach starts off by defining the audience that snapchat advertising is useful for: young adults 18-24. He also lays out some basic statistics about why Snapchat is a viable digital marketing medium, and should be part of any social media portfolio. Zach also sums up an important point to end the text:



The Infographic: 

The infographic steals the show. As a visual learner, it was pleasing, helpful, and entertaining. The infographic relays demographic information already discussed in the text, and adds more data. It gives examples of successful implementations of Snapchat from major companies such as Acura and Taco Bell. Thirdly, it gives the readers some examples of Snapchat uses: Contests, New Product Sneak Peaks, and targeted videos, among more. Finally, it sums it up with the best practices a company should undertake when starting a brand communication on Snapchat.


My one critique of the blog post is that the infographic felt buried. It was at the bottom of the post and I had to scroll down to find it. The infographic is visually appealing and interesting. As a frequent blog reader, it is possible that I could have missed it, because the extra step of scrolling through the post is one I often don’t take. Luckily this time I did however, because I was impressed with the visual representation of the blog.

More Marketing Insights from TEAM MONEY:

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant Can Play of the Same Team and Still Sell Sneakers

5 Secrets to Flexibility Training, and Building a Following

For me, flexibility has never come easily. Two years ago I could barely touch my toes or press up into a backbend (wheel pose) without help.

Today, I can sit comfortably in a split, while enjoying my morning coffee.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.44.35 AM

Jokes aside, when I decided to commit to flexibility training, I learned some big lessons. These lessons were not only about flexibility but about building a following on social media.

1) Take progress photos. And share them.

When I started working on flexibility, I took a contortion class where my instructor made us take progress photos. Sharing these photos (while uncomfortable at times) on Instagram kept me accountable.

I stumbled into a subculture dedicated to flexibility through sharing progress photos. “Today you’ll find a flourishing crowdculture around almost any topic” because subcultures are amplified in the age of social media (Holt, 2016). This community became my primary source of motivation. I received comments of encouragement from people I would never meet in person – my digital family.

Two years later, and I’m still sharing progress photos.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 4.25.24 PM

2) It takes 30-days to form a habit.

I HATED stretching. All of my fitness instructors told me if I really wanted flexibility training to become a habit, I would have to do it for thirty days. To jumpstart my flexibility training I took on a 30-Day Split Challenge. My challenge was simple: do 20-40 minutes of active stretches for my splits every day for thirty days. Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t at first.

I shared weekly progress with hashtags like #30daysplitchallenge to tap into a community of people who were working towards similar goals. The positive affirmation I received from these posts really kept me motivated to keep going. I ended up extending the challenge to do a second month. Stretching had become a habit.

And on Day 65, I got my first split.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.51.15 AM

Before I knew it, I had also gained almost 4 followers for every 1 person I followed. Why does this ratio matter? Because it showed me that being authentic in my content was the reason people followed me, not to get another follower in return.

People love an underdog.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 11.20.36 AM

3) Flexibility is mental.

So, what is really happening when you’re stretching? The truth is this: you’re training your mind, “Exercises such as reaching for your toes train the nervous system to tolerate a greater degree of muscle extension without firing off pain signals.” (Ghose, 2014) Sounds silly – but you can’t deny science.

Each time I stretched, I knew I was training my mind to go a little bit further. If someone had told me, “one day you’ll put your head between your feet,” – I would’ve laughed.

Looks like the joke is on me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 10.32.24 AM

4) Gains come at the most unexpected times, don’t give up.

You never know when gains will occur. There will be weeks (and even months) where you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. That’s normal!

For me, when I am injured (ironically) is when I have the biggest gains in flexibility. Weird, right? Earlier in 2016, I hurt my left wrist and had to rest it for 3 months. During that time, I had my first center split roll-through and stood up from a back bend with one hand.

The video doesn’t lie – note the wrist brace.

5) Stay hydrated.

Muscle flexibility is highly dependent on your hydration. “If you’re looking for a quick fix for just about anything that ails you, water is it. And that goes for flexibility as well.”  (Kita, 2009).

Drink water, osmosis is not the way. Trust me.


Parting thoughts…

Don’t be afraid to show weakness, failure, progress and success on social media. Authenticity is the key to finding and building your community.

Happy bending!

Melissa Barker


  1. Holt, Douglas. “Branding in the Age of Social Media.” Harvard Business Review Mar. 2016: n. pag. Print.
  2. Ghose, Tia (2014, November 13). Does Stretching Increase Flexibility?. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from: http://www.livescience.com/48744-how-does-stretching-work.html
  3. Kita, Joe. (2009, April 14). Drink Water, Boost Flexibility. Retrieved July 8, 2016, from http://www.coreperformance.com/daily/one-small-change/drink-water-boost-flexibility.html