Cannabis is getting a whole new audience. An indie film company has struck a deal to promote two new cannabis strains through a horror film from director Kevin Smith.
The movie, “Tusk,” is about a man who slowly turns into a walrus. Marketers plan to use it to sell two branded strains of marijuana, Mr. Tusk and White Walrus, both named after the film.
The partnership may be the first of its kind. The company behind the film, A24, reached the deal with a Los Angeles dispensary, which named the strains after the movie.
“White Walrus, I’m told, is more mellow and uplifting,” said Graham Retzik, a marketing strategist with A24. Mr. Tusk, he said, is more intense.
“The two are surprisingly complex, in keeping with the spirit of the film,” Retzik said.
“Tusk” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in early September. The marketing decision was designed to give the film buzz as it competes with hundreds of other contenders.
Smith is the perfect director for the project. His films, from “Clerks” to “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” are littered with marijuana references. Jay and Silent Bob, the characters who run through many of Smith’s movies, are weed dealers.
In Smith’s new movie, Justin Long and Haley Joel Osment play podcastoers who go to Canada in search of a sword-wielding kid from a viral video. Needless to say, the plot takes turns only a stoner could dream up.
Mr. Tusk and White Walrus are both produced by Buds & Roses, a dispensary owned by a partnership called Kushman Veganics. A partner in the business said they’re “two of the best strains we have ever grown.”
One of the strains started out as Veganic Chernobyl and was entered in the Cannabis Cup contest in Seattle. The other strain was inititally called Purple Drink because it tastes and smells like “purple Kool-Aid,” said the partner, Aaron Justis.
As far as Retznick knows, there have been no previous deals to sell marijuana tied to a movie. “Pineapple Express” gave its name to a popular cannabis strain, but “Tusk” could be the first time mainstream entertainment has actually dabbled in the marijuana business.
“This is right at the intersection of art and stoner culture,” Retzik said of Smith’s movie.
The tie-in is right at home with other marketing campaigns tied to popular art. Fast food restaurants, for example, have been cross-marketing children’s toys since the 1970s.
Retzik said A24 chose Los Angeles because of the city’s history with the film industry. But if Mr. Tusk and White Walrus take off, they could show up in Colorado too.
Smith, an inveterate stoner, told The New York Times he was “dying” to try the new strains.
“This movie was born in a blaze, and will be released in a blaze,” he said.