Announcing Receptor Brands, a New Cannabis Marketing Agency Headquartered in Chicago

Announcing Receptor Brands, a New Cannabis Marketing Agency Headquartered in Chicago

CHICAGO, June 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Today lifestyle and sports marketing veteran Kent Thomas announced the launch of Receptor Brands, a new and highly specialized creative services agency focused on transforming the relationships between cannabis brands and their customers. Based in Chicago, IL, Receptor Brands offers end-to-end services for the cannabis industry, including business strategy and branding to product innovation and packaging design, and from marketing and digital campaigns to experience design, content creation, and SEO.

As Managing Partner, Thomas will co-lead the Chicago-based agency with partner Allison Disney, an executive leader most recently hailing from the BBDO network. Disney has produced award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns for some of the world’s most iconic brands and serves on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Marketing and Advertising Committee.

“The cannabis sector is evolving at an accelerated pace; brands need best-in-class creative partners who can not only keep up, but help them stay ahead of consumer trends and the competition,” said Disney. “With Receptor Brands, we saw an opportunity to redesign the traditional agency model to better suit the needs of modern, fast-moving cannabis businesses. Our model offers clients robust digital and social-led production services, high caliber talent, and the ability to innovate and experiment at speed.”

Added Thomas, “Today’s cannabis consumers are sophisticated, they’re savvy, and they’re seeking the same immersive, rewarding and connective experiences they’ve come to expect from the sports and lifestyle brands they love. Understanding how, when, and where people are most receptive is what we do.”

Receptor Brands launches with a roster of high-profile Midwest-based clients, including a leading  multi-state-operator and retail chain with more than a dozen dispensaries across the US; one of Michigan’s largest outdoor cannabis cultivators and processors; and a fintech company enabling a safe and secure payment ecosystem for the cannabis industry.

Thomas and Disney have assembled an all-star team of highly credentialed agency principals across core disciplines with deep roots in Chicago, making Receptor Brands particularly well-situated to serve emerging leaders in legal adult-use and medical markets such as Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and other surrounding states:

  • Jake Setlak, Creative Strategy and Brand Experience, has more than two decades of experience creating ground-breaking campaigns and innovative marketing strategies for brands like McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch, Bayer Health Care, Allstate, Samsung, LG, Procter & Gamble, Facebook, and SC Johnson in his most recent role as VP, Global Integration Strategy Director at Energy BBDO. Jake is a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association Marketing and Advertising Committee.
  • Mark Flores, Customer Engagement, brings over 18 years of targeted consumer marketing experience garnered through his time working on multicultural campaigns. He has established and ran multicultural teams, agency side, for large CPG clients as well as led the internal general market team for MolsonCoors while at Olson Engage, now known as ICF Next.
  • Matt Sabo, Innovation and R&D Strategy Advisor is an experienced bioengineer with 20 years of CPG experience in product innovation, consulting, and marketing including in-house roles at Diageo and Cadbury Schweppes. For the past five years, he has run Slipstream Innovation, a beverage design consultancy focusing on growth strategy for funded start-ups, plus some larger CPG brands like Beam Suntory.
  • Katelin Randall, Client Services and Operations Director, is an integrated global advertiser with nearly a decade of digital and e-commerce expertise. She has led cross-functional teams big and small to deliver brand experiences for consumer packaged goods and lifestyle brands, including Champion, SC Johnson, Ocean Spray, Miller Lite, and Sprint.
  • Terry Moon, Director of Accounting,  brings more than 20 years of diversified service industry experience and a wealth of knowledge in cash management, budgeting, financial analysis, and human resources. Prior to joining Receptor, Terry was the Controller for rEvolution.

Receptor Brands arrives on the scene following a breakout year for the U.S. cannabis industry. Legal sales across the U.S.—18 states have enacted legislation to allow adult use and 37 allow for medical sales—hit a record of $17.5 billion in 2020, a 46% increase from 2019, according to a new report from the cannabis sales platform BDSA. In addition to steady growth in mature adult-use markets like California, Colorado and Oregon, last year’s sales were bolstered by emerging markets like Receptor Brands’ home state of Illinois, which expanded its medical cannabis market to include adult-use sales last year and is now doing over $1 billion in sales.

“Our marketing approach is rooted in the belief that if you can fit meaningfully into people’s lives, you’ll find your way into their shopping carts,” said Disney.  “We believe cannabis is here to stay, and that the brands we’re helping to build have a functional role to play in people’s emotional and physical wellness. We look forward to partnering with growth-minded clients who share our positive, future-forward vision for the category.”

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About Receptor Brands

Receptor Brands is a brand experience agency custom-made from cannabis. On a mission to transform the relationship between cannabis brands and their customers, this team of growth-minded marketing and innovation experts create experiences that exceed customer expectations. Based in Chicago, Receptor Brands provides end-to-end management consulting, product development, marketing, and advertising services.

Media Contacts:
Lisa Weser

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