Project Evolve's Chris Day on Fighting Propaganda and Engaging Global Markets in Cannabis

Thoughts on the birth of an industry

Chris Day is an brand strategist and entrepreneur focused on building opportunities within the global cannabis markets. 

Most recently, Chris has been working on Project Evolve's Global Cannabis Network Collective, which brings together many of the world's most influential and experienced multinational cannabis executives. Prior to that, he was at MJBizDaily, where he was vp of marketing and external relations.

We spoke with Chris for our interview series Higher Calling, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.


Chris, tell us ...

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

Current role is founder and lead strategist for Project Evolve, a global marketing think tank focused on expanding the international cannabis markets and the events that serve them.

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

In general terms, the cannabis industry has given me an enormous number of opportunities to build and create programs and platforms that have successfully brought companies and people together. Focusing on social equity and equality issues has also been truly wonderful in terms of what we've been able to accomplish thus far and the opportunities still ahead of us as an industry. 

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

Being based in Colorado, there is a huge variety of brands and products to choose from. And many of them are great. I'm particularly fond of L'Eagle Services here in the Denver area, as they really put a priority on customer education as well as organic and sustainable grow practices. So, if I'm purchasing flower, it's most likely going to be from them. I also appreciate and like Wana Brands as well as Incredibles. 

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today. 

I think the biggest challenge we face today as marketers is ignorance of truth by the "mainstream" marketing world and an almost 100-plus year anti-cannabis propaganda campaign that we are needing to overcome. In the purest sense, if you see the cannabis plant as a brand in and of itself, it's been a maligned and lied-about brand for a really long time, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent on misdirection by people who should have known better. We, as marketers, are having to overcome that with only a fraction of the channels and budget available to us. It's both an amazing and intimidating professional challenge. These types of challenges are what I love, though, so I'm excited to be a part of it in so many markets and behind the scenes of so many brands and great people.

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

I love to see the international emergence of so many markets in such a brief period of time. It's not often in someone's career that they get to truly witness the birth of an entire industry. You maybe get two or three opportunities in a lifetime, and we are on the rising tide of the largest one of our generation. 

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support and why.

I truly appreciate the efforts of so many partners and social justice organizations. Just a few would be: Cannabis Doing Good, M4MM, Last Prisoner Project, MCBA, MPP, SSDP, INCBA, Cannabis Certification Council, EU Medicinal Cannabis Association, ICCI, all of the various state organizations making a difference in their markets, and a host of others. I've been truly lucky to work with all of them over the last four years, and each one is a gem in their own right. 

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

One of the last projects I worked on prior to departing MJBizDaily was the creation of Associations Day as part of the Industry Giveback program. Being able to provide an international platform for organizations to engage with members, donors and interested parties in their efforts was great. It certainly brought more attendees to MJBizCon, but most importantly it gave these organizations a megaphone to educate tens of thousands of industry professionals in a matter of days.

I'm also very proud of the Global Cannabis Network Collective that I'm working on now. It's bringing together hundreds of the world's leading cannabis experts to share knowledge, expertise and information that will help drive the expansion of the global cannabis markets.

Someone else's project you admired recently, and why.

I deeply admire Cannabis Doing Good's new Impact Fund. A large part of being successful in business is learning effective ways to give back to the communities who form your customer base. The CDG Impact Fund is just that kind of tool for the industry as a whole.

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

There's too many to count. I'd be doing many of them a disservice by calling out a single individual. 

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

I'd probably still be working inside advertising agencies. Glad that's not what I'm doing. As an independent, it's nice to be able to choose the brands and industry I want to work with. Inside an agency, you are basically a hired mercenary. You have to hunt what you are told to hunt, whether you believe in it or not. I'm done with that. it sucks your soul away.

Higher Calling is our new interview series 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 contact Michael Kauffman.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and founding editor of Muse by Clio. Prior to joining Clio in 2018, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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