Last week, Drake’s cannabis joint venture fell through. Canopy Growth has divested Drake’s More Life, which led to a $10 million write-off. It fell through for two reasons—a struggling company and a misaligned brand.
A turnaround that never happened. When Drake teamed up with Canopy Growth in 2019, the company was struggling. It had net losses of nearly $1 billion. It launched a wide range of THC-infused beverages and edibles to right the ship. It has recently launched partnerships with Snoop Dogg, Martha Stewart, Seth Rogen, and Drake.
When the deal was signed, I was bullish on Drake’s opportunity to help an underdog brand. But I was off. Way off.
Was there ever a strategy? In August 2020, ten months into the More Life JV, Canopy Growth CEO David Klein told BNN Bloomberg that “it wasn’t progressing as originally intended and still working on the details to determine where it goes.” Later in the interview, he said “More Life was pretty far down the list of things to get to.”
It sounds like More Life got put on a performance improvement plan before getting pushed out of the company. It’s an unusual spot for Drake, who’s been the priority in most business relationships. He’s rarely been put in that “not important, not urgent” bucket.
An off-brand mismatch. Drake may still be rap’s top act, but he can’t sell everything. When I think of Drake’s brand, I don’t think of weed. I think of him drinking champagne I can’t pronounce, chillin’ on a boat, and wearing some all-white Air Force 1s.
I can’t think of a time I’ve seen Drake smoke up, and I’m not alone. There have been articles written about this topic!
The best brand-artist partnerships are for products that fans believe the artist would rep even if there was no money involved. Drake has plenty of those partnerships, like Nike, Sprite, Toronto Raptors, and his growing portfolio of media investments.
Cannabis ain’t one of those. Drake still owns the remaining 60% of More Life, but it makes more sense for him to sell it off, or partner with a friend who is a stronger fit.