Legally High

Like many others I suspect, the news that a company in Washington State, USA is launching a range of soft drinks infused with marijuana caught my attention (big time).  http://bit.ly/1nyuFOd

The cheekily named “Mirth Provisions” is, equally cheekily, calling their new drinks “Legal”. There are 3 flavours, Cherry, Pomegranate and Lemon plus Lemon Ginger, which can apparently only be drunk while listening to the Grateful Dead (I made that last bit up, the bit about Grateful Dead not the bit about the Lemon Ginger version which is, they claim, quite a bit stronger).

I’ve been to Washington State but the once, to Seattle, home of Starbucks. I think I may be going back and I don’t plan on drinking coffee. This is the biggest news in the drinks industry since they lifted prohibition. How long will it be before you can pick up a 6 pack at Tesco’s and lose an entire weekend? Soon I hope because Seattle is a bloody long way.

I just love this news because it shows the power of a real product benefit and encourages us all to dare to dream the impossible.

I recall a few years back, in 2002, asking one of the brand managers at Miller Beer what he thought the game changers might be in the future. (I should explain that  Miller was built on introducing Lite (sic) beer which was the first decent product based innovation in beer for generations. It was pushed through to the market by people from the new owners Phillip Morris – it worked in fags, why not beer they figured).

He couldn’t see one coming. “What about when they legalise cannabis”, I asked. He was both shocked and incredulous. But I was the Global Marketing Director so he couldn’t tell me I was being both inappropriate and daft although it was clear from his reaction he thought I was both. My intention was to shake up his thinking so I had some fun with him. “Why not?”, I pressed on. “You do know it’s an accident of history that alcohol and caffeine are legal while cannabis is not. LSD was legal until late into the 1960’s. So why shouldn’t a relatively harmless drug like marijuana be made legal at some point? And if it was how would that affect our industry?” He wasn’t having it. “I don’t know about the rest of the world but it just ain’t going to happen here in the Sates”.

Well it is happening, buddy, and it’s brilliant and it will change things forever. All booze is based on ethanol – forget all the hype and bullshit, ethanol produces just one kind of legal high. Marijuana produces an altogether different high – that is progress in my book. Maybe some marketers like the kind of marketing you have to do when the truth is there’s bugger all difference between your product and any other. Personally I like the kind of marketing you can do when you have something new and different, and yes, for some people on some occasions, much, much, better. Imagine the fun we can have transforming a whole bunch of categories in food and drink. That line was, by the way, very deliberate. We can consume our new products and let our imagination run wild and we will laugh out loud while we are doing it because some suckers are actually paying us to do this!

And of course we will dream of other previously unimaginable product breakthroughs. Cars that run on water, phones that tell you what shape you’re in, clothes with smart fabrics that adapt to the environment, insurance that rewards you for being a good driver based on your actual driving data – hang on a minute, I think all those things are available now. Well, shit, we can imagine a whole bunch more.

Back to the soft drinks with dope, who do you think will be first to get this into their cola, Coke or Pepsi? Here is what I think – I think it will be Coca Cola because they’re big and awesome. And then, with a fabulous sense of irony, Pepsi will launch a cola with cocaine extract called Pepsi coke. And they will resurrect one of the best slogans in advertising history….

Lipsmackin’ thirst quenchin’ acetastin’ motivatin’ good buzzin’ cooltalkin’ highwalkin’ fastlivin’ evergivin’ coolfizzin’…Pepsi coke!

Because it just works doesn’t it? It was a line ahead of its time. I wonder what they were on when they wrote it?

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