Joe Montana, the football legend was a part of a whopping $75 million investment in Caliva, one of the biggest cannabis companies in California. This was the second-largest cannabis investment for Montana, who also took part in a seed round funding for Herb, a cannabis media company, in 2017.
Joe Montana has been quite active in the cannabis industry, however, the Hall of Fame star has been tight-lipped publicly about his experience or involvement with cannabis. Despite of many celebrities opening up about their cannabis experience and promoting CBD products, Montana prefers keeping his cannabis investments and involvement quite personal.
In 2019, the actor told TechCrunch that his interest in cannabis is purely medical centric. Montana said that as a supporter and investor, in his opinion, Caliva’s strong management team can successfully create and bring to market high-quality health and wellness products that can provide relief to many people and have a significant impact on opioid use or addiction.
Apart from these statements, Montana has stayed quiet about his cannabis front. However, the collaboration with the three-time Super Bowl MVP, Montana, has given a boost to Caliva, a seed to the sale cannabis company headquartered at San Jose.
Dennis O’Malley, CEO of Caliva said that Montana’s investment in the company paved way for other well-known and popular industry moguls like Ryan Graves, Carol Bartz, and Tom Chapman to invest in Caliva. Joe continues to add value to the organization by providing them with the latest technology companies to pilot with.
O’Malley stated that the $74 million investment didn’t come from Liquid 2 Ventures- a venture capital firm run by Montana, physicist Mike Miller and entrepreneur Micheal Ma.
O’Malley further said that Montana was introduced to Caliva through Ron Conway. Currently, Caliva operates more than 250 dispensaries across the state with a delivery service with 300 plus drivers.
Conway is popularly known as one of the “Super Angels” of Silicon Valley with a net worth of nearly $1.5 billion. His investments include giant companies like Facebook, Reddit, and Google, among other ventures.
Montana shared his story about his faith in plant-based solutions vs opioids and Caliva was thrilled to have him on board as their strategic investor, said O’Malley. Another famous celebrity associated with Caliva is Jay-Z, rapper, who is employed as the company’s chief brand strategist.
The Celebrity- Marketing Strategy
Hemp was legalized in December 2018, post which cannabis companies started cropping up offering an array of CBD products. Cannabidiol or popularly known as CBD is a non-psychoactive component with anti-inflammatory properties. The compound garnered massive trust and popularity amongst consumers.
The stigma around cannabis decreased gradually and people, including celebrities, athletes and politicians started confessing about their experience with cannabis. With CBD, a substance derived from a Cannabis genus plant, getting wide acceptance from the consumers, many companies hopped on the CBD bandwagon and began rolling out products.
With the marketing campaigns, came the celebrity endorsements and many celebs started promoting their favorite CBD brands and products. While it’s normal in the U.S. for celebs to openly talk about CBD and endorse cannabis-based products, Canada has stringent regulations concerning cannabis brands and celebrities. No celeb may endorse a cannabis brand or company, nor can any company celebrate any health or lifestyle benefits that could be linked to the plant.
Bill Plair, Liberal MP, said that it isn’t in the government’s agenda to promote the use of the drug. They are not permitting heavy marketing for cannabis or CBD as they have seen with other products such as alcohol, and so there will be severe limitations on things like sponsorship and celebrity endorsement.
Despite such strict regulatory guidelines, companies have creatively worked their way around these restrictions by announcing partnerships that focus on the brand, instead of the celebrity. For instance, Snoop Dogg is associated with Canopy Growth Corp., however, the product line, in Canada is known as LBS, an acronym for Leafs by Snoop, the name by which the product line is known in the U.S.
Along with Snoop Dogg, Canopy Growth also works with Seth Rogan and has spun out another company, Houseplant, to bring the brand to life. Drake is also linked with Canopy as he is the majority owner in More Life Growth Co., a Scarborough based cannabis producer. Despite these associations, you will not see any collaboration with the celebrities in advertising or branding, beyond word of mouth or press releases.
The stringent limitations have been criticized by many, citing that it is yet another hurdle formed by the Government that hampers the development of the Canadian cannabis market. Ivas Ross Vrana, the national director of the cannabis practice at the Hill + Knowlton Strategies (H+K) asked the Growth Op last year that why is the plant being treated like it was plutonium? Ivan further added that it’s pretty interesting how the regulations are different for the cannabis industry as compared to other industries.