Beats by Dre Global Head of Marketing Departs for Cannabis Company Cura Partners

Jason White spent nearly 5 years with Apple brand

White attends the 12th annual Adcolor Awards in September 2018. Getty Images
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Jason White, evp and global head of marketing for Beats Electronics, has left that company after nearly five years.

The executive told Adweek he accepted a new role as global CMO of Cura Partners, a Portland, Ore.-based company that aspires to be “the leading provider of cannabis in legal U.S. and international markets.”

Friday was White’s last day with the Apple-owned audio brand, and he celebrated his time there with an Instagram post.

A Beats spokesperson declined to comment on White’s departure.

"[Cannabis is] an emerging industry with a very colored history that is rising to a point where it's going to have lots of power and influence."
Jason White, global CMO, Cura Partners

If you look at Beats, that was a chance to learn from some of the greatest disruptors on the planet—to really hone the craft of pushing culture,” White said. “To have a chance to now lead that charge for a company that is so intent on making a difference and being a voice in the industry is really exciting to me.”

Cura launched in 2015, expanded to California and Nevada in 2017 and became the first cannabis business to rank among the 50 fastest-growing private companies on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 list in 2018.

The Cura Cannabis Solutions division is best known for its Select lines of cannabis and CBD oils, and White will oversee the development of those brands.

“Cannabis is an industry deeply rooted in culture and collaboration, and there is no one better suited to solidify our brand Select’s role in the future of this community than Jason White,” said president and CEO Cameron Forni in a statement. “Select is already the best-selling cannabis brand on the West Coast, and as we grow around the world, Jason will ensure the brand stays true to its roots in the industry and remains a brand for people from all walks of life.”

White joined Beats in mid-2014, just before it was acquired by Apple for $3 billion. He had previously spent several years with creative agencies including BBDO and Wieden + Kennedy, where he led the global Nike account before serving as managing director of W+K Shanghai.

During his time with Beats, White oversaw such efforts as a “Straight Outta Compton” tie-in, which won Gold Lions at Cannes, and the “Re-established 2014” campaign welcoming spokesman LeBron James back to Cleveland.

I went to China in 2006 just as people were saying, ‘We’ve got to get this right.’ I went to Beats before it went to Apple,” White said, describing the cannabis space as “where the world is going to have to go next.” He added, “It’s an emerging industry with a very colored history that is rising to a point where it’s going to have lots of power and influence, but also going to have to make a lot of decisions.”

The executive has been a vocal advocate for diversity throughout his career. At a 2017 4A’s conference, he called it “absolutely issue one” for Beats, and in an interview with The Undefeated later that year, he said, “For far too long, the advertising industry … has not had enough different points of view in the room.”

Cura Partners employs around 530 people and has reportedly secured more than $125 million in private capital. It hired longtime hospitality executive Angelo Lombardi as chief operating officer in December 2018, and its newest facility opened in Arizona late last year.

The most recent change atop Beats’ marketing team came in late 2016, when CMO Omar Johnson left the company after six years and White took over the role. A former Adweek Brand Genius honoree, Johnson is currently an investor and keynote speaker.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.