Raising Arms Over E-Cig Ads
With the Super Bowl behind us, it seems worth taking a moment to think on the ad NJOY aired during the event. With 30-seconds of time going for a reported $4 million, this is more than a big deal for the industry. A number of words come to mind – brazen, ballsy, and brilliant.
Electronic cigarette companies advertising on TV at anytime are catching flak for it. Anti-smoking groups think this is a violation of a pact keeping cigarette ads off the airways since 1971. E-cig advocates think this is a natural progression for an industry that shouldn’t be shoe horned in with the stigmas and regulations of smoking.
“But the Super Bowl is a sacred family event!” cry the public health nuts. The argument goes that even if electronic cigarettes are to be advertised on air, they shouldn’t be on channels or in places highly visible to kids. Granted, electronic cigarettes shouldn’t be advertised on Nick Jr. But the Super Bowl was never a totally vanilla affair. I for one can’t remember a Super Bowl that didn’t have Budweiser commercials. Beer is not for kids. Should they too be banned from advertising during the Super Bowl? If for no other reason than that they make some of the best commercials, I’d say no.
By the way, there’s another product advertised heavily during the Super Bowl that might make a better point. They release chemicals into the air and costs countless dollars. Using these, people kill themselves and others. Every possible effort is made to make this product look cool to kids and yet you can’t use it until you’re a certain age. Cars. Probably at least half of the ads during the Super Bowl are for the various new vehicles on the market. Far more of them have killed people than electronic cigarettes.
The point is, it’s easy to frame something as evil, catastrophic, or detrimental if you only view it from one angle. We already know that kids don’t find electronic cigarettes appealing. Generally they go for the real thing. If they don’t like the idea of the real thing, they don’t like e-cigs either. It’s possible the growth in awareness of electronic cigarettes could have an opposite effect to what anti-smoking individuals believe. By taking the teeth out of smoking’s image, e-cigs might cause smoking to lose its cool factor.
At the same time, any adult that kicks the habit because of electronic cigarettes (looks like roughly 25-30% that try them will) is one less adult out there smoking in the various public places where kids might see it. Again, the point is that there are far too many factors to measure the potential damage and when all’s said and done. If electronic cigarettes can assist people quitting that otherwise can’t or can dramatically reduce the damage they do to themselves, then broad awareness can only be a good thing.
NJOY took a real gamble placing an ad in such a visible location, but our bet is that it will pay off. The Super Bowl advertising board (or whatever it is that decides what ads go on) could have just as easily decided it wasn’t worth it. I’m inclined to think someone there gets e-cigs.