Vaping Epidemic Marketing
The advertisement I chose, from Scott Stantis in the Tribune Content Agency, 2018, is a black and white cartoon with a skeleton is dressed in a black robe, feeding a baby a bottle labeled ‘vape’. At first glance, it seems that the baby is potentially being threatened by the skeleton. However, after further assessment, one can perceive that the skeleton is more of a nurturing figure to the baby.
From a parental perspective, concerns of the child’s health and the parenting skills of the baby are in question. In reality, the argument the illustrator is trying to make is that nowadays, authority figures encourage the use of, what is believed to be, a safer tobacco product to today’s youth.Since 2016, vape pens have been the alternative to traditional tobacco products. Advertising agents are appealing to younger and younger audiences as time goes on.
They almost glamorize the product through packaging, a variety of flavors, and claims of being less detrimental to your health. Studies show, “in 2016, 11 percent of high school and 4 percent of middle school students were current users of e-cigarettes”, meaning that the money and advertising effort has paid off (Lohmann). Big tobacco companies have found a new way to appeal to an even younger generation of smokers. The new and innovative vape devices are small, ‘convenient’, and more affordable. Some electronic-cigarette products look like juice boxes, candy, and even flash drives (Daley).
Agencies’ clever marketing target ranges from children as young as middle school students to the elderly who have habits but want to quit smoking. The research of these vape companies include compiling data such as internet searches, pop-up ads, and what you view from different websites. Social media also has a big impact on determining what the consumers want.
For example, when a celebrity starts a new trend, the fans follow their lead and buy products related to the trend. From there, vape companies see the trend, market and distribute it into their new products. Therefore creating an enticing package with interesting flavors. Obviously, the marketing choices for the flavors of vape cigarettes is proof that they target younger audiences.
For example, some of the flavors offered are: Gummy Bear, Blue Raz Cotton Candy, Banana Nut Bread, Watermelon Wave, Rip Tide, and Frozen Lime Drop (Pink Spot Vapors). Advertising flavors such as these distinctively sell to the less mature and younger group of ‘vapers’. If more of the older generation were into e-cigs, then the flavors would have more robust sounding names, like Cherry, Wine, and Menthol. The usage of wacky names and fruity flavored vape liquids is simply a mask to the reality of the poison that lies within.
The irony of the advertisement depicting the skeleton as the adult role model who possibly is dying or already dead from a tobacco related disease. While all along showing the youngster that it is, health-wise, safer to use a vape pen rather than a traditional tobacco product. By federal law, warning labels are required on the packaging of all vape products. However, very few people actually read the warning labels, let alone heed the messages.
The labels are required to be in all caps, in bold-type, at least 12 point font, and centered in the warning area. For example, “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical” (FDA) is used on all vape products. Having an addiction is not healthy for your mental health. Addictions teach people to ignore the important things in life and to only focus on that addiction.It is also widely believed that e-cigs are physically less harmful than cigarettes. Yes, they don’t cause cancer and there are nicotine-free liquids available, but other major factors exhibit the harsh effects of e-cigarettes. The e-cig is mostly composed of flavoring, a battery, and a heating element.
Batteries in cell phones, computers, and other technological devices have been known to explode for no certain reason. Reports of frequent malfunctions of electronic cigarette explosions have been recorded over the past couple years. As of February 2018, 274 e-cigarette explosions have been reported. Of which, 73 during use, 90 during charging, 60 during transport or storage, and 51 due to battery corruption. Out of these, 182 resulted in injury or death and 92 resulted in damage to their surroundings (eCigOne). “The conclusion they draw is that while vaping is safer, “better than smoking” is not necessarily the same as “good for you”, especially when it hasn’t been on the market long enough to indicate the long-term effects of its’ usage (Diffen).
Altogether, the advertisement is effective, due to the fact that it toys with the audience’s emotions and makes them question their own knowledge of the subject. One of the appeals that it uses is pathos, because it causes the reader to worry about the health of the child. The baby in the ad undoubtedly represents a younger demographic group and not necessarily a baby. The skeleton could be symbolism for a parental figure who is passing down bad habits to their young. Because of this, the viewer mostly likely fears that it could also resemble death or possibly cancer in some way.
However, from the perspective of most teenagers, this could bring forth the feeling of anxiety. The overall message that the ad brings is that the morals and lifestyles of society as a whole, are spiraling downwards. Another appeal that it uses is logos because it makes you think about what the statistics of tobacco vs. vaping are and just how effective it is in the world today.
The final appeal, ethos, is used by the audience. According to their credibility standards, both young and old view the ad as an unethical and immoral scenario. With these three appeals, the illustration captivates the audience more than words could.