I noticed this beginning a couple of months ago — a sexy new ad campaign for an e-cigarette called Blu.
I first saw an ad on TV and was shocked to see a cigarette ad on TV, then realized it was for an e-cigarette. However, it was using the same techniques used in old cigarette ads — hip, young, sexy people using their product looking cool.
The TV ad features B-movie actor Stephen Dorff (remember him as the evil vampire in “Blade?”) talking about how e-cigs have freed him from being a “human ashtray” and allows him to “enjoy smoking without infecting the people around me.”
“C’mon, rise from the ashes,” Dorff concludes.
You’ve probably seen Dorff in a bunch of magazine ads. Sports Illustrated and many other magazines have them every week. Cool, sexy-looking, using retro B&W photography (with the Blu e-cig standing out in blue). This Business Insider article is pretty critical of the whole campaign for employing ancient cigarette advertising techniques.
Here’ is Joe Rogan’s really funny take on the Dorff commercial, mashing it up with a really bad Brad Pitt Chanel No. 5 ad to create the “douchiest ad ever.”
The Blu commercials are very careful not to tout their product as an aid to quitting smoking. They’re more about how to avoid smoking. E-cigs don’t have a good reputation for helping people quit. Every single person I’ve ever talked to who has used them has told me they were no help at all. (If you don’t know much about e-cigs, they’re not cigarettes at all, they give the user a little jolt of nicotine-laced steam to curb their nicotine cravings. Relatively harmless and totally harmless to people nearby.)
What I noticed is that Blu and other e-cig companies are using techniques mastered by cigarette companies — make their product appear sexy by using young, smart-looking sexy people to promote the product.
Check it out. 1970s-era cigarette ad:
Now, e-cig ads from a company called Ever Smoke