Interview with Drake Sutton-Shearer (PRØHBTD )
On May 2nd, Drake Sutton-Shearer of PRØHBTD will speak at Kahner Global's Cannabis Private Investment Summit in Beverly Hills, CA. This event gathers industry leaders and investors for a day of collaboration and networking.
Drake is the CEO and founder of PRØHBTD who create, build, and market Cannabis brands to global audiences. In addition, they own and operate the leading creative studio and largest multi-platform video network in the Cannabis industry reaching tens of millions of consumers monthly.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What led you and your Co-Founders to found PRØHBTD? While out to dinner 5 years ago, we started talking about media & cannabis. We realized the need for a progressive online experience with a younger voice. We wanted to bring a modern design aesthetic and produce premium content to educate and entertain people. We decided to build it - build a media brand, build an audience, and ultimately help Cannabis companies build their businesses.
What is PRØHBTD's value proposition? We connect brands with consumers.
Content - we are the largest producer and distributor of original Cannabis content
Audiences - we have an owned & operated audience in the millions
Brand Solutions - we help entrepreneurs create and build brands that consumers can relate to and we have a venture component that scales as we are equity partners with some of our brands partners
How has video, including original programming, helped your business? Video is a central part of our strategy. Modern consumers demand great content experiences with ecommerce. Typically, consumers watch a video and/or read an article before making a purchase. The way you build trust with consumers is through great content. If you can build this trust, you can form a lasting relationship with the consumer. It was important for us to gain our audiences trust through impactful content and then eventually introduce them to our brand partners products and services.
Today, we own the largest global Cannabis video library from scripted to unscripted to docuseries to animation and we had 20,000,000 video views just last month across our network. Our creative teams across content and brand development are second to none in the cannabis industry and it's truly a pleasure to work with them to help our brand partners succeed.
What do you look for when investing in companies? We look for strong operators, on-trend categories, and the ability for us to activate our business around the opportunity.
What is your perspective on the current marketplace of Cannabis Brands? I personally don’t believe the biggest brands in Cannabis have been created. Successful brands have a loyalty and utility component. There hasn’t been enough time pass or product consistency to build loyalty with consumers. When you walk into a drug story, among the many Aspirin choices, you pick up Advil because you are loyal to the brand and you know it works for you. Those brands have yet to be made in the Cannabis space but there are certainly some contenders. It is a fragmented marketplace, there are 60,000 plus cannabis companies in the US alone.
I truly believe a war on brands is coming. The plant will continue to be commoditized. Brand and brand experience is going to be the differentiation and value proposition.
What are some challenges Cannabis companies face in advertising? The problems cannabis companies face is ambiguity around what you can and cannot do. Cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. Media companies like Facebook and Google’s terms of service clearly state you cannot advertise an illegal drug. You have to be creative. Content comes into play here. You can build & syndicate great content experiences across social and other platforms driving brand awareness and purchase intent. The future will look very much the same as any other marketing mix - owned, earned and paid media with earned / social being a central part of the equation.
Tell us a bit more about your partnership with Advertising Week. The goal of the partnership is to educate mass media and CPG companies on the Cannabis industry. We are translating the industry to those who we believe are going to be the future purveyors. Last year in New York, part of our activation included flipping the VIP room at the Playstation Theater in Times Square into a green room. We had influential business leaders and celebrities walk out of the room with a very different narrative. We are moving the Cannabis narrative from a pot business to a health & wellness plus agriculture business.