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American Electronic Cigarette Companies Investing Heavily in Advertising

Posted September 4th, 2013 in News by Steve

Although electronic cigarettes are a relatively recent invention, the companies that sell them in the United States are using the same marketing methods that were employed by tobacco cigarette companies in the middle of the previous century, before this was severely curtailed by legislation. As the market for e-cigarettes grows rapidly – it is predicted that annual sales will reach $2 billion this financial year – electric cigarette sellers are spending huge sums of money to market their product using television commercials with celebrities, as well as sponsoring sporting events. 

Whilst these marketing techniques can no longer be employed by tobacco cigarette companies, electronic cigarette companies are not hindered by the laws that impact upon the way that the former can advertise their products. So e-cigarette companies are copying the techniques that worked so effectively for their counterparts for so many years. Furthermore, electric cigarette companies are also using the methods that are still available to tobacco companies such as the hosting of special events, print advertising, promotions, and sample giveaways.

One of the biggest American electronic cigarette companies, Blu Ecigs, has recently added a second actor, Jenny McCarthy, to its list of star endorsers. The other is Stephen Dorff. Blu Ecigs has so far spent $12.4 million on advertising this year, a marked increase from the same period last year when it had spent $992,000. Other big e-cigarette companies are also spending large sums on advertising.

Not everyone is happy with this new marketing blitz. Matthew Myers, the president of the Washington DC-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, stated that “It is beyond troubling that e-cigarettes are using the exact same marketing tactics we saw the tobacco industry use in the 50s, 60s and 70s, which made it so effective for tobacco products to reach youth”. He added that “The real threat is whether, with this marketing, e-cigarette makers will undo 40 years of efforts to deglamorise smoking.”

Electric cigarette companies dispute this claim, arguing that their target market is the adult population, not children. They also point out that the purpose of their product is to help people quit smoking, not to encourage them to start. They add that electronic cigarettes are legal and are no different to other quit smoking products such as nicotine gums, inhalers and patches, and quit smoking drugs.

Like tobacco companies, e-cigarette companies are spending large sums of money to promote their brands. Elliot Maisel, chairman and chief executive of the Fin Branding Group, which sells the Fin E-Cigarette, declared that “Our company is built on branding”. This is reflected in the fact that the company plans to spend more than $8 million this year on advertising to exploit “the opportunity to build a great American iconic brand”. The company’s vice-president for marketing, Joana Martins, stated that the target market is “adult smokers, 25 to 44, whoa re tired of being ostracised”. The message is that “it’s OK to smoke again”.

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