When Netflix unveiled official cannabis flower tie-ins to ten of its shows, the streaming service got a boatload of free publicity. Dozens (maybe hundreds) of local, national, and global news outlets ran the story.
The media giant clearly knew its audiences. It knew it had a large contingency of stoner viewers and they chose the affiliated series carefully to target those viewers in sub-categories. For the aging hippy-generation potheads, they had strains that tied into Disjointed and Grace and Frankie. For the yuppie professional cannabis connoisseurs, they offered strains inspired by shows like Chelsea and Orange is the New Black. And for the edgy stoners, they had buds related to Wet Hot American Summer and Arrested Development.
All those strains were chosen based on the personality of the show and offered for one weekend only at a pop-up shop at Alternative Health Herbal Services in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.
But there was another audience for the promotion, of course. And that was the news media, who couldn’t resist an unimportant, but click-baity headline (not that we’re any better).
On a weekend when one of the worst natural disasters in recent years has hit the country, The Guardian, the LA Times, and the New York Post all ran stories on weed that a single dispensary in West Hollywood was going to sell for three days.
In other words, the promotional stunt worked. Many, many, many more people than will ever get to Alternative Health Herbal Services this weekend read about the “very chill indica” which Netflix paired with Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, the Prickly Muffin strain which goes with Bojack Horseman or the Moon 13 strain meant for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Small attempts at promoting film releases with limited-run weed strains has worked to a degree before. Both the films Tusk and Swiss Army Man had some success with marijuana cross-promotion. But no tv or film release has ever got the kind of media attention with weed that Netflix got this past weekend.
The question now is who is going to follow Netflix’s lead and how soon will it happen? Will HBO release a special White Walker Widow strain for its last season? An Anderson Cooper 420? Smoking With The Stars?