Not Just for Potheads: Marijuana Goes Mainstream

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From the Rebranding Marijuana campaign by The Original Champions of Design
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Studio 360 initiated this design project to explore cultural issues around the legalization of marijuana. It does not imply advocacy for the drug or its use.


Marijuana is now mostly legal in two states and approved for medical use in 20 more. Pot is gradually going mainstream, but “there’s no West Elm bong,” says Amy, a publishing executive who smokes regularly, and participates in a pot lifestyle site. People like Amy (not her real name) don’t identify as stoners; they just prefer a mild high to getting tipsy. But cannabis culture is stuck in the past: tie-dye, the hemp leaf bumper stickers, the Cheech and Chong routines, the Snoop Dogg jokes.

Studio 360 has asked designers to come up with new concepts for the gay pride flag, Monopoly, and even Christmas, and we came up this design challenge: rebrand marijuana for mainstream culture. The Original Champions of Design (OCD), a branding firm that has worked with the Girl Scouts of America and the WNBA, took on the challenge. “It doesn't imply that we smoke pot,” co-founder Jennifer Kinon quickly points out. “We don't — I never have. But the scientific research [on the drug] is something I do believe in,” she tells Kurt Andersen.

See OCD’s full redesign presentation

With partner Bobby Martin, Kinon began surveying the field, noting marijuana’s many slang names: weed, grass, ganga. OCD decided quickly that a renaming was in order. Instead of smoking weed — “smoking is out as a way to consume anything,” Kinon says — people would consume “cannabiotic” products made with marijuana. 

The principal graphic in OCD’s concept proposal is inspired by the hemp leaf: an abstracted, seven-bladed leaf in purple — “like a very short, rounded Christmas tree, or a smushed asterisk,” Kinon says. The color was chosen for, what Martin calls, “cues to red wine, and subtle connotations of purple haze.” The same mark also appears in a warning symbol, designed to indicate the product’s toxicity, on a background of lime green, over crossed bones. (Would that really be enough to keep the children away from “cannabiotic” brownies, though?)

In OCD’s concept, educated users would deliberately choose marijuana products over the old default of coming home and pouring a drink or two. Their proposal hails this as “conscious untensioning.” Whether legalization of the drug proceeds or stalls, Kurt Andersen thinks “untensioning” may be a hot new word of 2014.         

As more states consider legalizing marijuana, Studio 360 wanted a design firm to imagine how the drug could be rebranded for mainstream consumers. Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin, co-founders of the O

  

Kinon: “Being a Lean-In mom, you’re always looking for the best product. So can we replace that end of day glass of wine with the end of day glass of pot?”

  

Kinon: “Smoking’s out as a way to consume anything. Foodies like to eat. Marijuana increases your appetite. So why not incorporate pot into your hors d'oeuvre?”

 

Campaign slogans and posters. “Instead of renaming marijuana, we want to reposition the experience,” says Kinon. “So the same way that in the 90s we ate natural foods, then we started to eat organic f

 

The green warning symbol is based on the poison symbol. Kinon says it shows the product “isn’t for regular consumption. You need to eat this responsibly.” (See the full design presentation.)

      

Music Playlist

  1. Because I Got High

    Artist: Afroman
    Album: The Good Times
    Label: Universal
  2. Take Me Higher

    Artist: Jahzzar
    Album: Tumbling Dishes Like Old-Man's Wishes
  3. Nice Day For A Sulk

    Artist: Belle And Sebastian
    Album: Fold Your Hands Child You Walk Like a Peasant
    Label: Matador
  4. Purple Haze-Star Spangled Banner

    Artist: Lonnie Smith Trio
    Album: Purple Haze: Tribute to Jimi Hendrix
    Label: Music Masters Jazz

As more states consider legalizing marijuana, Studio 360 wanted a design firm to imagine how the drug could be rebranded for mainstream consumers. Jennifer Kinon and Bobby Martin, co-founders of the Original Champions of Design (OCD), created the campaign. Their redesigned marijuana symbol “looks a little bit like a short rounded Christmas tree, or a smushed asterisk,” says Kinon. “It’s purple now because of all of the cues of relaxation.”

( Courtesy of OCD )

Kinon: “Being a Lean-In mom, you’re always looking for the best product. So can we replace that end of day glass of wine with the end of day glass of pot?”

( Courtesy of OCD )

Kinon: “Smoking’s out as a way to consume anything. Foodies like to eat. Marijuana increases your appetite. So why not incorporate pot into your hors d'oeuvre?”

( Courtesy of OCD )

Campaign slogans and posters. “Instead of renaming marijuana, we want to reposition the experience,” says Kinon. “So the same way that in the 90s we ate natural foods, then we started to eat organic food, now you can have cannabiotic food – perfect for our wellness freaks and foodie.”

( Courtesy of OCD )

The green warning symbol is based on the poison symbol. Kinon says it shows the product “isn’t for regular consumption. You need to eat this responsibly.” (See the full design presentation.)

( Courtesy of OCD )
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