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SXSW 2019: My Toke on Cannabis

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Every spring, like a blanket of wildflowers, people from all over the world cover the City of Austin, TX, during SXSW to share their creative expressions, music and ideas. It’s a modern-day pilgrimage to the capital city to investigate, network, watch, listen and enter into different worlds of thought and virtual realities. It’s the place to discover new technologies, new movies, new emerging trends and the brands that can influence the way we all live and work.

This year, Leafly, which claims to be the largest cannabis website in the world, presented a well-rounded track over several days addressing multiple topics under the banner of Cannabusiness. The Leafly Lounge inside the convention center used its interior walls to provide simple text and graphics to help introduce SXSW participants to the cannabis topic. 

It’s leading message: THC gets you high, CBD (cannabinoids) doesn’t. Leafly creatively demonstrated with juicy-flavored smoothies how terpenes, the natural aromatic compounds in plants and fruits we consume daily, give cannabis strains distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, mint and pine. 

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Brands Come Face-to-Face With Survival

Screen Shot 2017 10 16 at 10.36.19 AMAcross the country, many brands are either dealing with a crisis and trying to survive it, or emerging as stalwarts of survival for the greater good. Here are three scenarios, each with a unique brand connection to perseverance. Make way for the new economy called survival.


While American football fans and fantasy team captains hang on to their hopes for a winning season, the National Football League faces its latest challenge as individual expression competes with sportsmanlike conduct and team unity.

It’s too early to tell whether fan loyalty will result in disdain and longterm loss for the league or if the drama along the sideline will actually draw more broadcast viewers and social media followers of the intrigue. Headlines about player and coach behavior seem to be garnering more attention than scores and stats. Commissioner Roger Goodell will need to flex his muscle and leadership when the team owners convene soon to express their obvious differences. It’s all Goodell can do to keep the media at bay as other national voices push the league closer toward its own goal in a defensive posture.

Some would say the NFL barely survived the concussion catastrophe, but this issue is a horse of a different color. We’ll soon see whether the league is more about individual voices or clear expectation of respecting the flag, despite the disrespectful behavior of some who live under it.

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Another Brand Meltdown for Blue Bell

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A primary brand attribute of Blue Bell Ice Cream has to be delicious. However, it seems to be aspiring to reshape its positioning to embrace the attribute of listeria. Can a bacteria be an appropriate attribute for a delicious dessert? 

Once again, Blue Bell is pulling the cows from the marketplace back to the barn. In this case, the ice cream maker is recalling its Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and its newest flavor Cookie Two Step. One step forward, two steps back. The reason for the voluntary recall is the concern that the flavors may contain the deadly listeria bacteria that forced a complete shutdown of the creamery operation in April 2015 and forced a nation to go through a complete withdrawal from its addiction to the dessert.

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Our Country Should Never Forget

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Most 16-year-old teens in America will not recall what actually happened on September 11, 2001. Like the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, it's an historic event, but one with little to no point of personal reference.

Time passes quickly, and the tragedy of history is easy to forget. As a result, it's easy to ignore the impact that so many Americans still feel today. However, it is not easy to dismiss the tidal wave of memories many will have this weekend, recalling the sense of uncertainty about loved ones, the vivid details of where they were when it all came crashing down on Manhattan and the somber state of shock that rattled a country.

Time went by too quickly for a local mattress shop in Texas. In the genre of poor local television commercials, the retailer anchored a promotion to 9/11. It's Twin Towers sale mimicked the iconic skyscrapers of New York City as the store manager declared the discounts. At the conclusion of the aired spot, which should have never been slotted for play, two employees crash into the mattress towers, as the manager fakes a gasping look of shock. She then looks to the viewing audience and says, "We'll never forget."

Someone in the station's sales department did forget to speak into the matter, as well as everyone involved in its production. It was tragedy upon tragedy.

The commercial spot experienced a short life, and public apologies continue flowing, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

It's a different reality today in the financial district of Manhattan than it was in 2001. It's a fading reality for Americans who are growing up without being anchored to what a country should never forget.

Conservative Latino. Conflicted Republican.

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Thank goodness there is a curtain to hide behind when I vote on Super Tuesday. Although my history is to publicly declare my vote after stepping out from behind the curtain, the 2016 March Primary causes me to bite my tongue and run into the shadows. What if my bet is a Trojan horse, and 2017 dawns an era of regret?

Early in the battle for the Republican mantle, so many contenders made my head spin. It has been the virtual reality show of politics. So many wanting the red rose and the public’s kiss just to stay in the game through the final episode. Following each A Team and B Team debates the overload of commentaries brought forth nothing new to me. I feel like I have to rudder through the deluge of presidential hopefuls on my own.

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