BAM Connection's Rob Baiocco on Plotting the Course of Cannabis

Plus, his 4/20 campaigns for Keystone Canna Remedies

Rob Baiocco is co-founder and chief creative officer of The BAM Connection, a branding, advertising and content creation agency in Dumbo, Brooklyn. The agency's driving philosophy is "Simplicity liberates creativity."

As CCO, Rob oversees the creative vision for all work across a wide variety of categories including, spirits, healthcare, sports, cannabis and social responsibility. Some of BAM's clients include: First Response pregnancy test kit, Parrot Bay Rum, Bausch + Lomb, and Riunite Wine. Past clients have included Yellow Tail wine, for which BAM created a 2019 Super Bowl commercial, and Keystone Canna Remedies, where the agency was and continues to be out front in the new world of cannabis marketing.

Prior to launching BAM nine years ago with his partner Maureen Maldari, Rob was executive creative director at Grey New York for 20 years. We spoke with Rob for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Rob, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Buffalo, New York. I now live on the Upper West Side, and have for the last 29 years.

Your current role in the cannabis industry.

My advertising agency handles marketing and social media for cannabis brands.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

I remember a few of my high school friends in 9th grade getting high at a party.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Well, besides being a client and good for my advertising business, I think occasional cannabis use allows me to relax and let go of any stress and anxiety.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

I prefer an edible over smoking, for sure.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Besides it still being federally illegal, which will change at some point, I think the biggest challenge will be how to stand out in a category exploding with so many competitors. When you can get your cannabis anywhere and everywhere, only the strong brands will survive.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

It’s brand new, which means being experimental and learning as you go. Sure, you can use some other lateral experiences to guide you, but how exciting to be plotting the course for a whole industry and category. We’ve been doing it already for three to four years. Each day brings new excitement.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

My friend Howard Bowler, who owns Hobo Audio, created a series of PSAs that examine the marijuana laws and how they wrongly affect different people. I’m a genuine supporter of everything he does.

A project you worked on recently that you're proud of.

On 4/20 each of the past three years, we’ve done a special social effort for our client Keystone Canna Remedies. This past 4/20 we did PAINsylvania. It was all about how medical marijuana helps take the pain out of Pennsylvania—all the pain associated with the 23 approved medical conditions in the state, like cancer and Parkinson’s treatment, PTSD and anxiety.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

The work for Jay-Z’s Monogram is really strong. It powerfully demonstrates a lot of the hypocrisy around marijuana.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Again, I'd point to my friend Howard Bowler, especially because a lot of what he does is motivated by personal experience with how his children were treated.

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

Any good movie.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

At The BAM Connection, we work in multiple "adult" categories including wine and spirits, so there are lots of other things to work on.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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