For those who haven’t met Emily, star of HBO Max’s upcoming comedy called Close Enough, here’s a quick description, according to the streaming service: She’s logical and organized, and she’s a busy working mom who’s trying to have it all.
In short, she’s the prototypical modern cannabis consumer—at the very least, she’s canna-curious—and she’d likely combat her everyday stress by getting blissed rather than bombed.
It’s strategic, then, that HBO Max’s marketers would link with a cannabis brand, Kanha, for a weed-themed promotion to hype the July 9 launch of the animated series. Also worth noting: The show veers into surreal territory (time-traveling snails and stripper clowns are mentioned in the synopsis), which makes cannabis an apt companion for viewers.
By linking with the cannabis industry, HBO Max follows in the footsteps of sister brand, HBO, and competitor Netflix in crafting cannabis-centric ways to tout its projects.
Weed imagery in TV marketing has a precedent—it goes back to, well, Weeds, the Showtime series that launched 15 years ago with a giant pot leaf in its advertising. But networks and content creators have more leeway to use the real thing these days, as cannabis is now legal for recreational use in 11 states and Washington D.C., with medical sales allowed in 33.
For the stunt around Close Enough, Sunderstorm’s Kanha will debut a line of THC-infused gummies named after and inspired by the show’s four adult characters, 30-something friends living on the east side of Los Angeles and trying to win at the adulting game.
Emily’s blend, dubbed Sativa Pineapple, is intended for those who want to “get things done,” while the edibles named for her on-screen husband, Josh, would better suit the low-key fan. This cool dad and future world-famous video game designer “loves to relax,” according to his Indica Strawberry spiked candy.
The products won’t be widely available, but they will be sold at some 20 dispensaries in California and delivered via Eaze in L.A., San Francisco and San Diego through July, while supplies last.
The streaming service is hoping for the talk value of the partnership, which “feels so authentic” to the show and “hits the nail on the head,” says Peter Sherman, senior vp of program marketing at HBO Max.
Promotions that laid the groundwork for these kinds of alliances include an HBO activation early last year that handed out about 1,000 CBD-laced lattes, branded for the third season premiere of anthology series, High Maintenance, in Brooklyn and Venice Beach. “The Guy” himself, Ben Sinclair, turned up to greet fans in New York.
Before that, Netflix partnered with a West Hollywood dispensary to create a weekend pop-up based on its Kathy Bates comedy, Disjointed. The experiential event also launched strains of weed inspired by the streamer’s other programs like Grace and Frankie (Peyotea), BoJack Horseman (Prickly Muffin), Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later (Camp Firewood) and Orange is the New Black (Poussey Riot).
Because cannabis is still federally illegal, the TV channels and platforms can’t touch THC-tinged product, and all proceeds from sales of these go to the brand partners.