Cannabis Darling Charlotte’s Web Wants You to Know Hemp Is Great, Too

'The first family of cannabis' makes rare, high-profile ad buy

A hand holding a hemp plant with the text "Trust the Earth" on top
Charlotte's Web didn't put its company logo on the campaign's illustrations.
Charlotte's Web

Two pop culture icons, street artist Shepard Fairey and a pot leaf, come together on giant billboards that rolled out last week.

There’s no company logo on the illustrations, just two lines of text—“Trust the Earth” and “Hemp for Natural Health”—so they require a little explaining.

The art is the centerpiece of the first national ad campaign from Charlotte’s Web, a Colorado-based prime mover in the alternative wellness space of cannabis, as well as its less controversial—and recently legalized—cousin, hemp.

With its goal of “democratizing hemp for everyone,” the family-founded brand partnered with Fairey’s Studio Number One for a rare high-profile marketing maneuver aided by Fake Love, an experiential agency owned by the New York Times.

By the way, that’s actually a hemp plant, not marijuana, held aloft by the disembodied hand in the middle of the murals, which Fairey says fulfill his mission of working on “projects that have meaning and create positive change in the world.”

The first art installation appeared early last week in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, and the Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Chicago versions went up Friday evening.

As the country nears the height of the green rush, the CBD industry is booming, valued at $1 billion today and predicted to reach $16 billion by 2025, according to Wall Street analysts.

Against that backdrop, Charlotte’s Web has expanded employee ranks and boosted production lately, doubling its distribution. Its oil, capsules, gummies and other CBD-based products are now available at more than 8,000 retailers like Kroger and The Vitamin Shoppe.

Joel Stanley, co-founder and board chairman of Charlotte’s Web, explains the unbranded campaign, the impact of urban art and the value of holistic alternatives.

Your company has been fairly advertising-averse in its five years in business—why choose now for a big splash?
Joel Stanley:The hemp-CBD industry is exploding and gaining major mainstream popularity. It’s more important than ever for people to have access to quality hemp and trusted information about CBD. There are new brands coming into the market monthly, and education right now is key.

What’s the message of “Trust the Earth”?
It’s a call to action for education and connection. We’d like the artwork and the campaign to remind people that we aren’t disconnected from nature. The same compounds that exist in hemp exist in our own bodies, and many of the answers we seek are from the earth. We should consider trusting nature.

The campaign platform, trusttheearth.com, will help people gain understanding around the benefits of hemp, provide tools to identify quality CBD and invite people to join the community.

Why buy out-of-home media?
As more doors of access open to CBD in general, we’ve still been blocked from many traditional means of marketing. When you consider our company has grown through word of mouth and people sharing positive experiences through social media, docu-content and editorial stories, we had to choose a route that felt the most authentic.

We wanted to reach Americans from coast to coast, because having the right to quality natural options made from hemp should not be a question of where you live.

Did you consider putting your logo or another obvious piece of branding on the art?
The company branding is subtle, using the Charlotte’s Web “flower of life.” We didn’t want to diminish the message with over-branding. This campaign is about our community and education and leaning into the demand for trusted education and genuine connection.

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