George Jage Connects Cannabis Pros Through CPG Trade Shows
George Jage believes in the power of face-to-face commerce and the personal touch to help cannabis brands and retailers navigate a complex marketplace and grow assets in the world of weed.
Jage, co-founder and chief executive at Jage Media, is prepping his company's inaugural live CPG trade show, MJ Unpacked, set for Oct. 21-22 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The event promises:
• Over 100 THC CPG brands and products, plus 2,000 retailers
• Eleven conference sessions and panel discussions among industry leaders
• Investor pitches for companies seeking capital
• Exclusive mixers for industry pros
• A Blues Brothers concert benefiting restorative justice in cannabis
Jage Media also operates MJ Brand Insights, providing up-to-the-minute industry intelligence and in-depth research.
Previously, Jage served as CEO of Dope Media, leading its acquisition of High Times. He's also held senior posts at Marijuana Business Daily, F&W's Beverage Group, World Tea Media and the Off-Price Show.
We spoke with George for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.
George, tell us...
Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.
I’m CEO and co-founder of Jage Media, publisher of MJ Brand Insights and producer of MJ Unpacked—based in Bainbridge Island, Wa.
Your earliest cannabis memory.
I recall buying weed for the first time when I was 14, and receiving all seeds and stems.
A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.
In general, I just enjoy using cannabis far more than drinking as a recreational activity.
A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.
Creating an emotional connection with the consumer. Today, the consumer relationship is typically owned by the retailer. But as we move into a national CPG market, that will shift to the relationship with the brand.
One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.
Our event, MJ Unpacked, and being able to bring together CPG brands and retailers from across the United States at an exclusive forum to connect, collaborate and create.
A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.
We are hosting a benefit concert at MJ Unpacked featuring the Blues Brothers—Brother Zee (Jim Belushi) and Elwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd)—with 100 percent of the net proceeds to benefit the Last Prisoner Project. There are many great causes and organizations in our industry, but we need to free our brothers and sisters who are doing time for what most can do legally now. None are free until all are free.
A recent project you're proud of.
2020 was a big challenge for event producers, but I was really proud of how our team adjusted to the lockdown and launched the first virtual trade show of the industry. We held three such events last year. Virtual shows present a challenge in terms of creating the type of engagement we expect from in-person events, but we helped a lot of people connect and created opportunities for transactional value.
Someone else's project you admired recently.
I really admire the Last Prisoner Project for their work and mission of reforming criminal justice that has been used against our Black and Brown brothers and sisters unjustly.
Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.
I highly admire Tom Angell, who has maintained an exceptional level of journalistic independence while creating Marijuana Moment, a critical news and information platform for the regulatory and legislative aspects of the industry.
A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.
All of them.
What would you be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.
Something far less exciting.