My motto has always been, “Workers complain. Leaders solve.” Lead by example and instill that mindset into your team and employees. If you value solutions in everything you do — especially in this challenging space — so will your team.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rob Baiocco, Chief Creative Officer, The BAM Connection. Rob is the Co-Founder and CCO of The BAM Connection, a full-service ad agency in the digital hotbed of Dumbo, Brooklyn. The agency has a driving philosophy that “Simplicity Liberates Creativity.” Prior to launching BAM five years ago with his partner, Maureen Maldari, Rob was Executive Creative Director at Grey NY for 20 years where he produced multi-platform, award-winning campaigns, for many of America’s most popular brands.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with the ‘backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis space?

My company, The BAM Connection, a full-service ad agency based in Brooklyn, NY was named Agency of Record for Keystone Canna Remedies, which is the first medical marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania last year. Our work for KCR includes creative, including digital, video and social media, as well as overseeing strategy. This is a really interesting client for us since my partner, Maureen Maldari, and I have a lot of experience in advertising and marketing within the healthcare space, but this is our first time working with a medical marijuana brand. They have so much to offer their customers, but it’s still a relatively unknown space that presents a lot of challenges.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Recently, Facebook shut down our page for “selling drugs.” Quite bizarre. We are medical, and trying to help people, and have respected all the requirements of Facebook for advertising cannabis. We are still in the process of appealing it.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, it’s possible that we made some mistakes that led to the aforementioned page shut down — it’s a pretty big one to have a licensed medical marijuana company’s Facebook presence shut down due to what we were posting. Recently, our messages have been around removing the stigma about using marijuana, so it’s hard to imagine what led to us being shut down, but we hope to get to the bottom of it soon and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

We just finished an educational video (What is Medical Marijuana? can be seen here: about CBD vs THC vs Terpenes, etc. Education seems to be the #1 need as cannabis starts to really hit stride in mainstream. People often respond positively to very basic info. Also, they want to understand cannabis more and how each part works, so they feel more informed when “taking it.” Like any medicine. Overcoming the stigma is going to be a challenge even after medical marijuana is legalized everywhere, so while it’s in this nascent stage we feel like it’s very important to educate and inform as much as possible.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Too many to mention. I believe there is something to be learned from every single person you encounter if you are actually open to learning. I am a mosaic of all their help.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Due to the nature of the cannabis product, much of the social media has to be organic, not unlike the cannabis itself. This forces us to try to be more creative, more motivating. Yes, we are always trying to do that to breakthrough, but the reality is most brands see social now as another media outlet that you pay to play, which is somewhat true. So, what I am proposing isn’t a “new, innovative” marketing strategy, but more a reminder to always go back to the creativity and quality of the product itself, and try to build organic love. I also think that cannabis can learn from other, more established “large legacy” industries (the reverse). I have worked in wine and spirits for nearly three decades, and I see cannabis potentially evolving along the same path as that category.

Growing a cannabis marketing business CBD The BAM Connection

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

  • Excite:
  1. I think there is massive potential for interesting and provocative work, as well as brand-building opportunities (recreational)
  2. I like being in the forefront of an emerging category. It’s a bit wild west as you try to figure it out.
  3. Helping people with chronic pain and conditions
  • Concern
  1. The “rules” being vague and arbitrary
  2. The rules becoming too defined, stringent and limiting
  3. The deluge of people getting into the market, resulting in immediate saturation of messaging

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Medical marijuana can really help people with chronic conditions, but still has the stigma attached to it, and it is stronger than we anticipated.
  2. Facebook is going to be a bigger issue than we anticipated as well. Social media platforms are going to have to adopt to the changing times to be a resource, not a roadblock.
  3. Unless they are super active in the category, most people have a very low basic understanding of cannabis.
  4. Understand that you have a complex consumer in the medical marijuana space. There are many different types of people using it for many different reasons, and it’s important to be able to communicate effectively with all of them.
  5. Approach medical marijuana the same way you would any healthcare or wellness product — as is something that makes people’s lives better and healthier.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

My motto has always been, “Workers complain. Leaders solve.” Lead by example and instill that mindset into your team and employees. If you value solutions in everything you do — especially in this challenging space — so will your team.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The Goodness Movement: Just be a good person no matter what gender, race, religion, political point of view. Sounds simple, but easier said than done.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram: @thebamconnection
Facebook: The Bam Connection
LinkedIn: The Bam Connection

Thank you for all of these great insights!