IRVINE, CA: Cannabis technology company Weedmaps has named Berk Communications as its U.S. AOR.
The company, which started as an online list of cannabis dispensaries, provides information on online cannabis ordering, local retailer and brand listings, product discovery and consumer education. It also provides point-of-sale, logistics, wholesale and other B2B software for the cannabis industry.
Berk is working to increase brand awareness for Weedmaps in consumer, business, lifestyle, technology and cannabis media, the firm said in a statement. It is also handling consumer PR and thought leadership.
Berk will represent Weedmaps for the rest of this year and all of 2021, said Travis Rexroad, director of communications for Weedmaps. He did not disclose financial terms of the deal.
Rexroad added that the firm will work on a partnership announcement that Weedmaps is planning to make before the end of the year. In 2021, its focus will be on expanding the cannabis market -- on Election Day, legalization measures passed in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota -- and upcoming events.
“We are focused on 2021 now with all the spaces that have opened up with the different ballot measures passed,” Rexroad said. “Our big moment every year is around 420 and how do we own that moment in time? We’re planning for that and also lots of tactical things.”
Berk will also help Weedmaps with community activations for Black History Month in February, Rexroad said.
“It’s an opportunity to take a look at the war on drugs and the negative impact that has had, and what does that look like and how do we tell the story about it,” he said.
Weedmaps had Outcast on retainer for basic PR and project-based work when Rexroad joined the company last year, but he said Weedmaps was not taking an overall approach to communications.
“As I found my footing over the course of the first year, it became more and more clear we needed a comprehensive partner agency,” Rexroad said.
In July, the company issued an RFP to more than 10 agencies, including Outcast, before hiring Berk and starting work with the firm in mid-September.
“We were really looking for an external partner not only to solve challenges but help us in a number of ways with corporate, tech and consumer,” Rexroad said.
Rexroad was also attracted to Berk’s history of social justice work, evidenced through its representation of clients like rapper and criminal justice advocate Yo Gotti.
“Because of the nature of our industry and its history, there is very much a social justice component,” Rexroad added. “So all things considered, Berk was able to thread all of those needles and help show us how to tell our story and how to organically integrate Weedmaps into the narrative.”
Berk’s five-person team on the Weedmaps account is led by COO Ryan Mucatel.
Weedmaps works with a government affairs agency on regulatory and legal issues, but does not retain a creative firm, though Rexroad said that may soon change.
“We’re proud of the work we did to elevate Weedmaps, their mission and executives that aided in legitimizing the company and platform as a leader in the cannabis space. We wish them the best in navigating the landscape ahead with their new partner,” said a spokesperson at Outcast.