GTEC Holdings Ltd.
Corporate Statement on the BLK MKT™ Brand & Marketing Campaign
January 15, 2020
Corporate Structure | Trademark Ownership
The BLK MKT ™ brand is a trademark owned by GreenTec Holdings Ltd., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of GTEC Holdings Ltd. (TSX-V: GTEC). The brand is utilized on products cultivated by GreenTec’s cultivation subsidiaries (e.g. Alberta Craft Cannabis Inc. & Grey Bruce Farms Incorporated)
The BLK MKT ™ Brand Strategy
In developing the BLK MKT ™ brand, we set out to create a brand that would appeal to a specific target market; specifically, consumers who appreciate superior quality cannabis. The BLK MKT ™ brand was conceptualized and built by 3 individuals, 2 of which were people of colour. The brand was considered relevant, interesting and ‘edgy’ in that it references the legacy cannabis market. When we solicited feedback on this brand concept from our employees, friends, family and industry experts, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Moreover, while it should be obvious, we would highlight that this brand has absolutely nothing to do with race.
Use of the Marketing Tagline ‘Once you go BLK…’
The phrase was one of several alternative tag lines created by our Head of Marketing. It is intended to convey the idea that once you try BLK MKT ™ products, you won’t want to consume anything else (i.e. lower quality alternatives). We ran this idea by men and women of various ethnic groups, including those of African descent, and received no negative feedback. Thus, while we knew that this tagline might be viewed as ‘edgy,’ we were confident that it would not be viewed by most people in a negative manner. Indeed, for the most part, other than a group of individuals on Twitter, it was well received. For example, of the thousands of individuals that passed by our booth at the 2-day Lift Vancouver 2020 Expo, there was only one instance of a non-POC who felt it wasn’t a proper usage. No other individuals expressed any concern to us (including various people of African descent that visited our booth and favorable viewed the phrase). If anything, they seemed to have viewed it most favourably. Notwithstanding our position on these issues, we do want to clarify that the company has no plans to continue using this marketing tagline in the future.
The Company’s Ethnic Gender Diversity
We are proud of the fact that our company is diverse in terms of both ethnicity and gender. For example, our CEO is Chinese, our CFO is Female, and our Head of Marketing is of East African descent. We also have people of colour working throughout our cultivation facilities, in both entry-level and management positions. Moreover, approximately half of our total employees are female. Therefore, it is surprising and ironic that some people have been seeking to characterize our company as ‘nothing but white men.’
The Involvement of Legacy Growers in the Business
The BLK MKT ™ brand is a reference to the legacy markets. We do have some cultivation personnel that have experience from the legacy ACMPR era, and we believe that cultivation is a core competency for the company that provides us with a sustainable competitive advantage. However, our corporate entities (e.g. GTEC Holdings Ltd.; GreenTec Holdings Ltd.; Alberta Craft Cannabis Inc.) are not directly linked to the legacy markets in any way. Thus, all of our cultivation and analytical testing facilities are properly licensed and operating in a manner that is fully compliant with the Cannabis Act and Regulations.
Our Position on Freedom of Speech and Appropriate Conduct on Social Media
We fully support freedom of speech and recognize that this also means being open to a diversity of perspectives and opinions. That being said, we believe there were inappropriate comments made on both sides of the recent debate regarding the BLK MKT ™ brand. Accordingly, we would encourage everyone to express their views in a manner that is honest, ethical and respectful of others.
Unfair Representation & Characterization on Social Media
There were a number of inaccurate assumptions and statements made regarding our company, brands and employees on social media. We are an ethnically diverse company that does not embrace, promote or support racism in any way. Therefore, it is disappointing to us that people would seek to characterize us as a ‘racist’ or ‘white supremacist’ organization.
As a company, we are very proud of our entire team and appreciate their diligent and creative work on behalf of the company. We believe that our diversity is a source of strength for the organization. We don’t hire or judge our employees on their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation, but rather on the extent to which they are passionate about our mission to becoming Canada’s leading premium cannabis company.