Tony Fur & Todd Hunter are the Co-founders of OFFFIELD, A plant enhanced hydration mix for an open mind and an active life.
Briefly introduce us to OFFFIELD and your journeys to founding the company.
Todd and I [Tony] met while we started in the mailroom at CAA (everyone at CAA starts out in the mailroom). We were both interested in the creative marketing space and recognized that there was a wave of new, nontraditional marketing going on. With smartphones coming out, content creation and brand marketing was beginning to change. Todd and I are tech nerds but also creatives, so we bonded over this. We ultimately worked our way out of the mailroom and went on to become co-heads of creative at CAA.
Being a Co-Head
It was an amazing experience and we got exposure to so many great brands. We did work with Coca Cola, GM, Chipotle – actually I think we did our best marketing work for Chipotle.
We ran creative for Chipotle’s for 8 years and learned a lot about the food system. There was a time when people didn’t care about where the food came from and how the animals were treated, but then there was a cultural shift. We got to spend time with Steve Ells (Chipotle CEO), which was really rare for people our age. Steve is a classically trained chef and cares about the integrity of the food which also means making sure the animals were treated right. Through our work with Chipotle, Todd and I saw this shift happening firsthand.
How Dare You
We’re brand nerds and always focused on what’s happening next, and realized the cannabis industry was the next big thing. We did a ton of research, built a beautiful deck, and presented cannabis to 80 executives. It wasn’t a hit. We actually got an email that said “How dare you present an illegal substance in the boardroom!” We laugh at this now — especially since so many brands are now experimenting with cannabis — and it shows how far this industry has come, and how much farther it can go.
Even though we received negative feedback when presenting cannabis to CAA execs, we believed in the industry and kept tracking it. At the same time, we were also spinning CAA marketing into its own agency, Observatory. Todd and I were Co-Chief Creative Officers and built that business from the ground up, which was tough.
Building a business comes with a lot of personal sacrifices – I had little time to spend with family & friends, a newborn at home who I couldn’t spend time with, and a herniated disc in my back from sitting at my desk for so long. I was absolutely miserable. Looking back, I think this was the most miserable experience of my life.
Making a Change
I knew I had to make a change – not just at the personal level but also to install a culture that we felt proud of at Observatory. So, we implemented half day Fridays so people could get out of the office and do things they enjoyed.
This cultural shift actually let me rediscover things I loved doing as a kid, like playing tennis and exploring – although now I say “hiking”. I started inviting friends to join me in these activities. We’d smoke a joint, play tennis, and have a great time. We also felt energized the next day and didn’t wake up with hangovers since we weren’t drinking.
I started thinking about the link between cannabis and exercise, but when I Googled this, very few things came up because the FDA made cannabis very difficult to research. Think about it, in our society, D.A.R.E. and police officers were leading the conversation about cannabis, not scientists and doctors. I was baffled by this, especially when countries like Israel and Germany were leading such pioneering research on cannabis.
Cannabis & Runners High
There was research published that connected the “Runner’s High” to a cannabinoid called anandamide, and the only other substance that can mimic this is found in cannabis.
When this came out, Todd and I were consulting with cannabis brands who were focused on vaping. During this time, so many brands were focused on vaping and not the performance lifestyle aspect of cannabis, which is where we saw the true power of the product, and the clearest whitespace since no one was talking about it.
Consumers traditionally connotate cannabis and cannabinoids with relaxation and stress relief. How are you going about breaking these stigmas and educating consumers that it can also be an active, workout supporting product?
Recently a lot of retired athletes have been coming out to discuss the connection between cannabis and performance. Now that they’re retired, they can finally share stories of how cannabis helped them with training.
Our biggest challenge is fighting the stigma of cannabis and marijuana created by the War on Drugs – which wasn’t based on any research but on legislation and politics. So, deconstructing certain connotations is part of our mission as we want to provide our customers with the most objective education regarding the product as possible.
What do you think is the most important part of a business to get right first?
We spent a lot of time discussing our values and why we are creating a company.
From day one, it was important that we knew what we stood for and why. Through our experience at CAA, we were able to see how founders like Steve Ells and Brian Chensky attached themselves to their mission and aligned their business with it.
So, from the beginning, we made sure to do the same. On our website we have a goals page where we state what we believe and the three things that we always hold ourselves accountable to: self care as a right, not a privilege; every community as a happy community; our world should be powered by sustainable innovation, not synthetic exploitation.
What is more difficult, being a wellness company or a cannabis company?
Being a wellness company is somewhat all encompassing. It’s relatively easy because we are providing something that makes the world a little bit better but sourcing the right ingredients, packaging and building a sustainable supply chain is challenging.
You donate 1% of your sales to the last prisoner project. How important do you think is the
From the start we knew that we were going to be a company that takes action and put our values into practice. It’s important to recognize why there is stigma around cannabis and how the War on Drugs disproportionately affected people of color.
Our 1% commitment is across people, planet and communities. Over time we hope to be able to give that 1% to a variety of partners. Right now, we’re looking at a foundation that helps former prisoners readjust to the outside world and then helps them get jobs.
When you look at it, it’s pretty simple. Customers vote with their dollars, and customers want brands to step up.
Coming from the entertainment industry, where you both worked as Co-heads of Creative at CAA, you’ve had experience both working with major brands as well as major celebrities. Now more than ever, whether it is Travis Scott with McDonald’s or Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, you are seeing the confluence of the two. With consumers’ changing relationships with brands, social media becoming a marketplace, and the shifting paradigm in terms of artists’ revenue streams, do you see this as the next evolution in entertainment?
Yes. The first chapter of our careers were built on it. However, we’re still in the early innings of the branded entertainment conversation. We are in a period of time where different platforms are opening up to express creativity. All of the people you are mentioning are celebrities, but they are also creatives. Now, they are given an opportunity to express themselves in different businesses authentically, and not just through financial means. This unlocks so much of the value that they can provide and you are seeing how successful it can be.
If you could have one person use OFFFIELD, who would it be and why?
Willie Nelson. We actually had the chance to pitch a project to him. Willie is obviously a cannabis advocate but also an avid runner.
President Barack Obama would also be awesome as he was a fan of cannabis when he was younger and proved the stigma could be broken – he went on to become president!
If you could join the crew from Inception and implant one fact or idea into the minds of consumers, what would it be?
Our brand tagline, “Movement made happy”. It captures the idea that living a healthier life, physically and mentally, is attainable.
What is a memento from your childhood that you still keep and how does it serve you?
The paperweight my [Todd] parents gave me when I went away to college. It says “Diplomacy, the art of letting someone have it your way.” I’ve had it on my desk for 20 years.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?
For some reason during our time as agent trainees, someone had the idea to drive out to go to a renaissance fair, which was the largest in the west coast. We rented costumes, dressed head to toe in the garb, and fully committed. Yes, cannabis may have been involved. But regardless, it was such a fun, amazing experience.
With that being said, the photos should never see the life of day.
If you had to call one person right now to make you laugh, who would it be and what do you like the most about them?
I [Tony] would call my brother. We are total opposites; he inherited all the better qualities including an amazing sense of humor.
I [Todd] would call one my childhood best friend, Nick Bow. He’s a former Air Force lieutenant and just the wittiest and most genuine person I’ve ever met.
What is your creative outlet and how does it help you channel a flow state?
I [Tony] have been drawing and painting since I was a kid, so whenever I have free time that’s what I do. I’m trying to pass that love for art to my 2 year old son, who still needs to learn how to color inside the lines.
What is the last:
TV show you binged?
Queen’s Gambit (Netflix).
Movie you watched?
My Octopus Teacher.
Song you listened to?
A Day in the Life by Wes Montgomery
Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley.
Podcast you listened to?
The Knowledge Project.
Book you read?
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.
The Monk Of Mokha by Dave Eggers.
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