Cresco Labs Inc. is the first cannabis company to launch cannabis advertisements on Spotify, an audio streaming subscription service with more than 551 million users and 220 million subscribers.

The ad campaign includes 30 second audio and in-app digital banners that drive to Cresco Labs' proprietary Sunnyside e-commerce platform. Advertising is supported by a volume-driving paid media campaign that includes programmatic buying, native ads, connectedTV and more.

Cannabis Products Insider recently spoke to Matt Pickerel, VP of retail marketing at Cresco Labs, about the partnership and normalizing cannabis advertising.

CPI: How did the partnership with Spotify come about? 

MP: We’ve had an ongoing conversation about advertising with Spotify since I joined Cresco Labs in 2019. In every touchpoint, Cresco Labs demonstrated how it is a responsible, professional cannabis advertiser. Conversations surrounding an ad campaign for Sunnyside begin in Q2, and we’re excited to be the first advertiser in the legal, regulated cannabis industry to debut ads on its platform. 

CPI: What was Cresco Labs’ interest in advertising with Spotify? 

MP: Spotify’s platform and capabilities match our current advertising objective for Sunnyside, which is to drive customer trips to Sunnyside dispensaries and boost retail revenue in Illinois. Spotify is a sophisticated digital media platform that allows us to target priority regions and measure our success via a programmatic guaranteed buy. Audio is also an intimate format that also can be very persuasive, if done right. 

CPI: How would you describe Cresco Labs’ target audience?

MP: The core audience for this campaign is Illinois cannabis shoppers. Also known as “canna-qualified."

CPI: Are there any plans to expand reach beyond the Illinois market? 

MP: If our initial test in Illinois is ROI positive, we are certainly open to expanding our advertising with Spotify to our other markets.

CPI: What would you like to see happen with mainstream cannabis advertising going forward?

MP: This is one more step in the journey to normalize cannabis. In the months ahead, we would love to see other major advertising platforms follow suite. 

CPI: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

MP: We’re incredibly grateful to those who helped us achieve this marketing milestone, including our media agency, Noble People, and our creative partner, Sister Merci. Above all, we’re very appreciative of Spotify’s team for collaborating with us throughout this process, from the buying approach to creative production.

Cresco Spotify adOne of Cresco Labs' ads for Sunnyside.