Petros Papahadjopoulos on Bringing a Legacy Cannabis Brand to New Consumers
Petros Papahadjopoulos is CMO and CCO for Tradecraft Farms and Sticke Cannabis Oil Company.
A 25-year veteran creative director and marketing expert, Petros graduated from the University of Colorado with a double degree in journalism and advertising. He has been the vision behind branding initiatives for companies across multiple industries including tech, financial, entertainment, live event, sports, music, and food and beverage. Petros has worked with some of the biggest names in each industry from Microsoft, Madonna, Kevin Durant, and Conagra Foods.
He has always maintained a finger on the pulse of culture. His directing work has been nominated for a Grammy, and has been recognized with numerous MTV and YouTube awards. His music videos for artists like Martin Garrix have garnered billions of views online.
We spoke with Petros for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.
Petros, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in Northern California, in the Bay Area. Now I live in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. We live in one of the oldest homes in the canyon. It started out as a hunting cabin in 1910, and during the 1960s, there was an heiress who hid out here. Apparently she always had the best weed, so musicians from Carly Simon to The Mamas & the Papas—who lived in the neighborhood—used to hang and smoke out. Even before we moved in, we could tell our home had this undeniably groovy feel built on some truly rich L.A. history.
Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.
As of 2021, I am the CMO and CCO for Tradecraft Farms and Sticke Cannabis Oil Company. We are based in Los Angeles. Our founder started growing more than 15 years ago and dedicated his life, heart, and soul. His brother got involved, and it remains a family business with no outside investment. Our brands capture the lifestyle of Southern California, which I consider to be like the spirit of the Wild West meets beach vibes. That's why I love Los Angeles. It's a crossroads for people who come to express themselves, from artists and athletes to rocket scientists and entrepreneurs.
Your earliest cannabis memory.
Back in the '80s, there was a place called Stoner's Corner behind the gym at my high school. I wasn't a smoker back then, but I loved hanging out at that spot. It was like the movie The Breakfast Club—all the same characters. It was a place where the goth kids, surfers, and metal heads could get along and hang out with the occasional varsity athlete. Weed let people who would have never admitted they were friends hang out and connect.
A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.
Cannabis is a very connective experience. A good portion of how we live these days—fast-paced, buried in various forms of screen-fed reality—can be very disconnecting. I mean, we are connected to everyone, yet it's like being anonymous in a crowd: You're not truly connected to anyone. That's not great for the health of your spirit. Cannabis is an opportunity to come together and break bread, face-to-face, get on the same level. It's analog. Connect with your body, with your friends, with the tastes and sounds of the world around you. It's grounding—an important balance for the humans of today.
A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.
There is someone very close to me currently going through cancer. Rick Simpson Oil is something we have integrated into our treatment. The research is not conclusive yet as to how effective it is on cancer, but there are some strong possibilities. And anecdotally, I've witnessed other friends who have had good experiences with it. There is no doubt that it helps with many symptoms from chemo. I'm a huge believer in supporting your immune system and health with plant-based medicines.
The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.
A legacy brand like ours that has been in the game a long time has to be able to speak to their legacy consumers and also to the emerging market. They are two very different things. Legacy might only want to see weed porn imagery and chase products with high THC, but the emerging market wants a new lifestyle defined for them and a high that doesn't knock them on the couch.
One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.
Our Sticke brand's "Open Your Mind" campaign is about supporting the diverse voices of Southern California through music, arts, and sports. I'm really enjoying working with a number of street artists, including one of the pioneers of L.A. graffiti art, Risk—who's also behind the murals on the outside and inside of each of our Southern California retail locations— and many up and comers.
We commission a mural somewhere in the city by an artist and create a film and media to amplify their work through our channels. All these artists are chasing a raw spirit. It's no easy road coming up through the ranks of street art, but it's always inspirational to watch people follow their dreams and do something authentic.
A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.
Our brand, Tradecraft Farms, has created an incubator program. We've decided that our long history and experience in cannabis should be shared with communities and individuals that have been disproportionately hit by the war on drugs and people without the resources or opportunity to flourish in the burgeoning cannabis industry.
The incubator program provides all the necessary resources to help businesses and social equity partners succeed in a competitive landscape. We provide mentoring, real-industry immersion, networking, hands-on instruction, financial guidance, marketing support, and a plethora of other resources. Our goal is to provide equity- and minority-owned businesses with a war chest of resources and guidance that will allow them to not only build successful companies but enhance their own personal growth in the process.
A recent project you're proud of.
I'd say it's the launch of our Tradecraft apparel catalog.
I've always been a big fan of certain surf brands that shared the essence of the sport to a larger audience. At my junior high, there wasn't anyone who surfed, but they all wore Ocean Pacific. The brand caught fire in the '80s. I haven't seen the equivalent yet in cannabis in terms of capturing the essence of the culture and connecting it to the mainstream, but the potential is there. I feel we got closer to that as a brand with our latest catalogue. I think we took the essence of a product that's all about the tactile nature of life, set it in the context of Southern California, and made it accessible to the mainstream.
Someone else's project you admired recently.
I really admired Sharoz Makarechi's Joints for Justice initiative. Cannabis goes hand in hand with forward thinking, and new market users are particularly open to discovery and progress. Makarechi's brand is built with positive change at its core and does a great job of putting that into practice.
Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.
Bryan Buckley is behind HVGC, a brand here in Southern California. They are military veterans and have created a non-profit to help place veterans into community mentor programs in the cannabis industry. They also support medical cannabis treatment methodologies for both physical and psychological injuries due to military combat.
It is very common for veterans to come out of combat with PTSD and physical injuries and to get hooked on pharmaceuticals while trying to assimilate back into everyday life. I've met with the guys at HVGC and have seen how marijuana can help with the transition for vets without the addictive side effects of other medications often used to treat PTSD. These guys are next level in terms of their determination, and they are in it for the right reasons. There's real heart in what they do. It was eye-opening and incredible to sit with them and hear their stories.
A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.
Howl's Moving Castle by Hayao Miyazaki.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.
I'd no doubt be a writer, likely writing a book about the absolutely insane world of cannabis startups during the green rush.
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.