Enlighten’s Sam Hollander on the Evolution of Hashish in Digital

Sam Hollander is an accomplished sales, business development, and project management executive with experience in digital marketing and advertising solutions. He has nearly 15 years of progressive experience in roles with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Showtime, PHD Media Group (HBO account), National Geographic and Whistle Sports.

As Enlighten’s Chief Digital Officer, Sam is developing Enlighten’s programmatic advertising platform for cannabis and CBD. For the past 18 months, Sam has successfully established Enlighten’s advertising suite as one of the leading adtech solutions for cannabis and CBD marketers.

We spoke to Sam on our Higher Calling series where we talked to executives in the cannabis industry.

Sam tell us …

Where you grew up and where you live now.

I grew up in northern New Jersey. I lived in New York City and didn’t move to Long Island until January.

Your current role in the cannabis industry.

Enlighten is the largest digital retail and marketing cannabis company. Located at the intersection of retail and advertising, Enlighten connects brands and retailers by surrounding and influencing the cannabis and cannacius consumer. We activate campaigns via digital and experience-oriented platforms that connect the digital and physical world. As Chief Digital Officer and Head of Ad Sales, I am responsible for building our digital advertising products, developing and implementing go-to-market strategies, coaching the advertising sales team and exceeding sales targets.

A story of the positive effects cannabis has had on your life.

My father-in-law was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2017. The doctors gave him six months to live. As a cannabis advocate and user, he decided to take Rick Simpson Oil and lived for four years. He could see my wife and I getting married (in Italy!). Over time, the doctors were shocked and kept asking us what we were doing. We didn’t feel comfortable talking about cannabis back then. Now I want the world to know the difference it can make.

A favorite flower, edible product or brand.

I’m a huge deadhead so I naturally love Jerry Garcia’s new cannabis brand, Garcia Hand Picked. Holistic Industries did a great job on the packaging and worked with the Jerry Garcia Estate to bring an authentic brand to market.

I also think they did an excellent job bringing the brand to life by touring with Bertha, their mobile marketing activation. Holistic took everything Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead were about and brought it to life in such an authentic way. Following the dead and Jerry was a way of life. “Bertha” is one of her most popular and best-known songs. While most brands struggle to achieve authenticity, I really think Holistic managed to capture this. They also built a real sound barrier in Bertha. How cool is that ?!

I’m also a fan of low-dose edibles. It’s the perfect amount to help reduce stress levels, help with anxiety, and get a good night’s sleep.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Many cannabis marketers cannot leverage the same tools, platforms, and resources that non-cannabis marketers can. That is not to say that there are no solutions. Marketers are forced to work within the confines of these restrictions. As a result, the measurement of the impact of marketing efforts is fragmented and cannabis marketers believe that certain tools and resources are not available. For example, many cannabis marketers believe that they cannot do digital advertising because Facebook (through proxy Instagram), Twitter, etc. will not allow it. That is actually not true. Marketers can work with partners like Enlighten to access millions of publishers like Rolling Stone, Variety, and more, all with an efficient pricing model and measurement tools to determine the effectiveness of a campaign.

One thing to look forward to right now is cannabis branding, partnerships, or marketing.

The industry has grown exponentially over the past 24 months. Despite all of the terrible things Covid-19 has done to our society, it has actually made the cannabis industry adapt, develop and innovate quickly. As a result, e-commerce, delivery, D2C platforms, payment processing, and more are really taking shape. I’m excited to see how all of these platforms work together to deliver impactful messages to consumers and prospects AND how they work together to create a seamless technology stack that gives marketers real insight into the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

A cannabis trafficking / social justice organization that you support.

The Cannabis Marketing Association because Lisa Buffo does an amazing job bringing marketers and other industry experts together to educate the industry and get it mainstream. All cannabis marketers and brands should be treated the same as all non-endemic marketers and brands. They should have access to the same tools and resources and be regulated by the same governing bodies.

A current project that you are proud of.

Working with the talented team at Enlighten to create a new branding and launch an ecosystem that can help brands and retailers connect with cannabis users and cannabis users in new ways that were previously unavailable to cannabis marketers. As part of this ecosystem, I helped build our AdSuite product, which is one of the first true self-service advertising platforms in the cannabis industry based on transparent measurements, intelligence, and more.

Someone you admire in cannabis, doing great things.

It’s a cliché, but I admire every doer and doer who works daily to bring this industry into the mainstream. Anyone who is passionate about cannabis and the industry is admirable because we’re changing the perception of a commodity that I believe can change the world for the better.

What you would do if you weren’t in the cannabis industry.

Discovery of new, innovative and creative technologies for marketing to consumers.

Higher Calling is a weekly series released on Thursdays in which we talk to people in the cannabis industry about their personal stories and tastes of cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. If you would like to learn more about Higher Calling and our Clio cannabis program, please contact us.