Wine barrels in storage

It's High Time: Regulating the Legal Cannabis Industry

Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America

There exists a complex history between the alcohol and recreational cannabis industries.

Both topics beget sensitive assumptions and combining priorities can prove challenging to navigate. In June 2018, the Wine & Spirit Wholesaler Association (WSWA) became the first beverage association to openly and actively support legal cannabis. An industry trade group spearheaded the conversation through strategic PR efforts—better positioning themselves to influence favorable policy decisions in the future.

To promote WSWA’s position, Adfero merged the complementary industry narratives. Rather than focus on restrictive-use regulations, Adfero framed the conversation around consumer safety and protections. Leaning on the historical model of alcohol prohibition in the United States, this narrative discouraged an outright ban on cannabis use. It instead discussed the safety and sanitation of such substances, all while respecting states’ rights to dictate certain restrictions.

Adfero forged media connections based on the merit of WSWA’s cohesive approach. By targeting specific alcohol, cannabis and regulatory trade groups, as well as niche press outlets, Adfero secured earned media placements. Adfero strategically leveraged WSWA’s interim CEO’s strong interviews as proof points of the organization’s willingness to pioneer this paradigm shift.

One month later, WSWA’s message had earned 51 original media placements, with an additional 12 syndications, for a total of 63 articles. Two fully-owned and -earned op-eds in The Daily Caller and Morning Consult further cemented WSWA’s position at the forefront of the conversation.