Author Archives: Isufi Grese

The rise of the cannabis economy

Reading Time: 2 minutes

1 in 5 American adults has access to legal marijuana. Colorado processed one billion in sales in just the first eight months of 2017. In fact, by 2020, the marijuana market is estimated to reach 22 billion in revenue.

Marijuana users have historically been viewed as college dorm stoners or perhaps baby-boomer hippies. But what we’re seeing is a whole new range of products aimed at the enthusiastic and hip millennial audience. So why should marketers care about this too? Well, for one we’re seeing these products being positioned in a radically different way and it’s being coupled with increasing normalization among consumers. Nearly 2/3 of Americans supported legalization in 2017 so you have a wide range of support for this. This number has nearly doubled since the 2000s so you’re seeing rapidly changing perceptions. And with that said, marijuana is now being positioned as a tool, as a therapy and a multitude of new different spaces.

So for example, High Times is supporting moms who get high and using either CBS oil or smoking cannabis itself as a way to manage the challenges of motherhood. Recently, sublingual nano-sprays have been introduced where the effects don’t last all afternoon so you can still do the school run, in theory.

All of this is a part of this general shift where we’re actually seeing marijuana being pointed as a lifestyle vertical. We’re seeing this also coupled with a shift in media, from celebrities to pop culture, everyone is really starting to celebrate and normalize pot and all its iterations as a part of everyday life. Broad City is probably a good example of that, High Maintenance HBO, and of course Vice Media.

We’re also seeing a whole wave of new brands trying to luxify the use of cannabis-related products. In fact, it’s gone so far the Business of Fashion which is a leading luxury in fashion business network pitched marijuana as the luxury industry’s next big opportunity.

One of the big shifts that we’ve seen with this recent explosion of marijuana is this notion of “Women and Weed” culture. Entrepreneurs and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg who has teamed with a partner to create Whoopi and Maya, a medical marijuana line of botanicals that help with menstrual cramps. We have Foria, a tampon brand that also includes weed.

All of this is a part of a massive wave of creativity generally. Aspects of cannabis are being appreciated for more tangential properties and benefits and we’re looking forward to seeing how this market flourishes to more innovation and more startups and more cannabis-infused moisturizers in the future.




Google and BBC introducing digital storytelling

Reading Time: < 1 minute

The Inspection Chamber on BBC radio, a program that explores a new way of interacting and controlling the story, with a make-your-own decisions spin to it.

The voice assistant, which in this case is “The Inspection Chamber” tells the story of an alien who has been captivated and is being interrogated by a robot. Users play the alien part by answering the questions which are being asked and by doing so, determining the course of the story.

We can tell the inspiration came from immersive entertainment, or more so the interactive aspect of video games.

“We were trying to go for something between a full game and linear radio,” said Henry Cooke, senior producer at BBC Research and Development, in an interview with The Memo. “Rather than making choices about what happens next, like a director, it’s more like you’re a participant, talking directly to the characters.” The Stranger things story telling game is also another example of fun use of a home assistant by Google home.

“Voice is going to be a key way we interact with media, search for content, and find what we want,” said Tony Hall BBC director general.


The future of women

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In this article, I am doing to talk about the future of Women – or at least, changes and emerging trends in the world of women’s marketing and also the gender gap when it comes to products and how they’re being presented by brands. The changing attitude to culture, lifestyle verticals and what is driving this change.

Many female-founded brands are starting to disrupt traditional Women’s verticals, especially in the female health tech, with a fresh new tone of voice, product offer, and visual language.
What’s really exciting about this time, is that you have a wave of female founders who are singlehandedly reinventing categories based on this new criteria.

We’re seeing women create director consumer brands designed in an empathetic way with a more approachable tone of voice. They’re building ethics into their business model from sustainability to donating to important charities and women’s causes, and they’re reframing how these categories are integrated into women’s lives.

You would expect female-oriented brands to embrace women, well quite frankly this is not always the case. Women are sick of tired of what’s out there. But what’s out there?
The truth is the industry is quite fractured, you have these large brands that speak to you in this really hyper-masculine way and then you have these newer companies who are hyper-feminine and equally raunchy at times. There’s no space for comfort. You better pick pink or blue or black and gold.

Take condom companies, for example, the biggest problem with their marketing campaigns is that it looks like they’re trying to sell you sex. All these brands need to start setting the tone to a more educational and realistic approach as opposed to being explicit and talking about what you’re doing in the bedroom and after. It makes people feel guilty and uncomfortable. There’s a wide-open space for change.

Another thing these brands need to start doing is using culture and human insights to develop meaningful marketing. Disrupt and dismantle stigmas, put a spotlight on cultural discomfort with women’s bodies and the way that they function.

Take this advert for a change, it tackles a lot of subjects head-on.

This campaign was refreshingly honest and artful, they refused to use blue liquid to show how their product worked instead they used red liquid because HEY that’s what blood looks like.

So, in conclusion, there’s not a lot of campaigns that portray women the way they want. There’s the need for connection, the need for better products, the need to disrupt the taboos around women’s bodies. The industry should make space to talk about these issues in a way that doesn’t feel so medical and embarrassing, also maybe permission to laugh about it a little bit. It’s time to bridge this corporate hurdle.

Big Data meets Big Brother

Reading Time: 3 minutes

An episode of the sci-fi series, Black Mirror, is becoming a reality with China’s new social credit system. Although not fully operational yet, this article will show you a vision of China’s Dystopian Future – The World’s 1st Digital Dictatorship.

China has been long known for being a surveillance state, now in this ancient mysterious land, big brother meets big data. In almost every city across the country, cameras and spyware have been installed, mapping your digital footprint to every step you take. What you do, say and even think is being monitored and marked against you.

On June 14, 2014, China’s State Council published a planning outline for the construction of a social credit system (2014-2020):

“A social credit system is an important component part of the Socialist market economy system… It is founded on laws, regulations, standards and charters. It is based on a complete network covering the credit records of members of society and credit infrastructure.”

We can assume the Chinese Communist Party is trying to pursue a softer, less or more invisible authoritarianism. The term social credit, a personal scorecard for 1,4 billion citizens, has nothing to do with credit; it has everything to do with control. Though still in the stage of a pilot program, by the year 2020, China’s citizen score will become mandatory. Implementing algorithms to big data, the Chinese government seeks to tighten its control over the people. Affecting their abilities to obtain bank loans, get a job, travel abroad and even getting their children admitted to good schools, based on the way the government deems their behavior.

“Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist”– Johan Lagerkvist, a Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs

China is positioning itself to lead the world in Artificial Intelligence. Surveillance technology is a key proving ground; facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking matched with your personal data and online behavior will power the social credit system leaving no dark corner to hide in. Several of the Chinese corporations including tech giant Ali Baba, are now working with the state to write the algorithms that will calculate the social credit score. They already have the data from their financial credit system AliPay. Once a person has a score, all their credit behavior in life is recorded and can be evaluated by that number.

“Our goal is to ensure that if people keep their promises, they can go anywhere in the world, and if people break their promises, they won’t be able to move an inch” – Jie Cong, Tianjin General Manager, financial credit system Alipay

It is the 21st century, we would think we are accustomed to handing out our data to corporations. Credit card companies know what you are drinking a Tuesday night or when you subscribe to Pornhub Premium. Facebook knows if like Buzzfeed Quizzes or Tasty videos. We are constantly rating people on Uber or Airbnb. All this information is being collected all the time, but it’s never being used against us. As in China, you may get in trouble even for the friends you keep.

Shopping habits are another measure, a score could even change in real time depending on what you put in your cart. Buy a lot of alcohol or antidepressants and lose a couple of points, buy a couple of cleaning products or some baby wipes and you gain a few. Who you date and ultimately partner with will also affect your social credit. Marry for love but also choose the right person, possibly one with a high score. Sounds dramatic right? The Social Credit System is already on the way and by 2020, the official outline will allow the trustworthy to run freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.

“Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships, his relaxations, his behavior towards his wife and children, the expression of his face when he is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his body, are all jealously scrutinized. Not only any actual misdemeanor, but any eccentricity, however small, any change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever.” – George Orwell, 1984



“Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020)”
Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020)