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Ben’s Best Blnz merges cannabis and social justice, Christina Aguilera’s investment in vegan lube and Simar Deol’s Foresight Friday.

Ben & Jerry’s co-founder introduces activist cannabis brand

Ben's Best Blnz. Identity by Pentagram, US
Ben's Best Blnz. Identity by Pentagram, US
Ben's Best Blnz. Identity by Pentagram, US

US – Ben Cohen, co-founder of the global ice-cream business Ben & Jerry’s, has unveiled Ben’s Best Blnz, a new cannabis company driven by social justice and specialising in smokeables, vaporisers and edibles.

The brand is dedicated to empowering Black talent, from hiring Black font designers to work on the branding with award-winning agency Pentagram to donating 100% of its profits to the Black cannabis community and groups advocating for criminal justice reform. According to FBI data, Black adults in the US are disproportionately likely to be arrested for marijuana-related offences, while non-Hispanic, single-race Black and white Americans used marijuana at roughly comparable rates in 2020, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Inspired by Black psychedelic art and quotes from influential African and African-American leaders, the sustainably produced cardboard packaging is as recyclable as possible and combines activism, ecology and colour. In our recent Cannabis Market, we looked at how the adjacent cannabis-derived food and beverage market continues to grow and diversify with new creative brands similar to Ben’s Best Blnz entering the market.

Strategic opportunity

To reach cannabis and CBD consumers and appeal to their predominantly liberal values, aspiring market entrants must innovate with solid branding and a purpose

Christina Aguilera joins forces with vegan lube firm Playground

US ­– Christina Aguilera has joined the ever-growing number of celebrities-turned-entrepreneurs with her new venture, a sex health brand that champions sex positivity.

Playground, a sexual health and wellness company which was launched in May 2022, was thrust into the limelight after Christina Aguilera announced her involvement as co-founder and chief brand adviser. The brand’s core product is a plant-based personal lubricant available in four scents called essences. The US Food and Drug Administration-certified lubes have a wellness-boosting formulation enriched with a proprietary adaptogen blend of ashwagandha, black cohosh and horny goat weed that is claimed to increase blood flow. The discreet pastel-hued packaging was designed to empower women to walk into a store and confidently buy lube without apprehension or shame.

Celebrities endorsing beauty and wellness brands have become common, but that alone is no longer enough to make a product successful – the match must feel organic. In Aguilera’s case, Playground’s co-founder and CEO Catherine Magee argues she ‘has always embraced her sexuality and has been unafraid to share it with her fans’, making the singer a good fit to champion sexual wellness.

Playground, US

Strategic opportunity

Treating sexual health like any other wellness category is one way to help destigmatise the act of purchasing and using sexual wellness products and empower consumers to buy them with confidence

Foresight Friday: Simar Deol, Foresight Analyst

Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory Victoria Ling for The Future Laboratory

Every Friday, The Future Laboratory team offer an end-of-week wrap-up of the topics, issues, ideas and virals we’re all talking about. This week, LS:N Global’s foresight analyst Simar Deol discusses Adidas’s tone-deaf legal appeal, increased spending on TikTok advertising and the spectacle of celebrity courtroom trials.

: Sportswear giant Adidas has withdrawn a request it had filed with the US authorities to block the Black Lives Matter movement from trademarking a design featuring three parallel stripes. Initially claiming that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s design would create confusion, the Post-purpose Brand quickly recognised that its objection might be seen as an opposition to the organisation's wider mission

: Despite increased scrutiny from regulators around TikTok and a US government call to ban the short-form video app, brands are increasing their promotional spending on the platform. Advertising on TikTok in the US grew by 11% in March, and companies including Pepsi, DoorDash, Amazon and Apple are among the top spenders, according to app analytics group Sensor Tower

: The spectacle of celebrity courtroom trials took on a new, humorous meaning this week after Gwyneth Paltrow won her ski trial while toting a half-litre bottle of Mountain Valley water. In the aftermath of the Depp-Heard trial – which handled far more serious accusations – the light-hearted nature of the Goop founder’s trial set in motion a tide of memes while TikTokers (#GwynethPaltrowTrial has generated more than 100m views on the platform) reacted en masse to her courtroom-core style and one-liner responses

Strategic opportunity

'Well, we lost half a day of skiing'

Gwyneth Paltrow

Stat: Hollywood’s diversity gains are faltering

Cinema at Shoreditch Arts Club. Photography by Beth Davis, UK Cinema at Shoreditch Arts Club. Photography by Beth Davis, UK

US – The cultural reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s murder inspired Hollywood film and television studios to commit to supporting creatives from under-represented backgrounds. Yet, a recent UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report shows that gains made in recent years are faltering. The report found that among the top theatrical releases, the share of films written by a writer of colour decreased to 12.4% in 2022, down from 13.9% in 2019.

Films made for streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video are slightly more diverse, with writers of colour gaining writing credits on digital platforms. Among the top streaming releases, the share of films with a writer of colour was 20% in 2022. UCLA’s report found that people of the global majority (PGM) represented a majority of ticket sales on opening weekend for six of the top 10 box office movies in 2022, meaning those consumers are enthusiastic film audiences, even though studios are slow to cater for them.

Our Identities Series explores how businesses and brands, including those running Hollywood, can innovate more inclusively.

Strategic opportunity

Businesses can’t opt in and out of investments in diversity and inclusion. As creatives of colour can engage with under-represented groups and drive increased cultural relevance and revenue, consider how your organisation can learn from them

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