Collection: Celebrity Vapors
The growing popularity of e-cigarettes has led its manufacturers to leave no stone unturned in marketing to consumers. Taking a page out of the tobacco advertising playbook used in the mid 20th century, e-cigarette (e-cig) manufacturers are using celebrity endorsements to drum up enthusiasm for their products and hook teenagers. With celebrities endorsing e-cigs, billed as the “healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes,” smoking or in this case vaping of e-cigs has become a fashion statement once again.
As there are no marketing restrictions on e-cigs, slick television ads of celebrities puffing away on their personal vaporizers frequently bombard the airwaves. In Blu’s campaign, Stephen Dorff and Jenny McCarthy urge people to take back their independence with the slogan “Rise from the Ashes.” The Blu ads featuring Dorff are so popular that he has become synonymous with the brand. In a recent interview, he said that people come up to him all the time and ask about the Blu e-cigarette. “I’m like the Blu man group,” Dorff said in the interview. In the ad featuring McCarthy, black and white shots of her exhaling smoke, highlight the blue tip of Blu e-cigs and make the entire experience look cool. In the ad, she goes on to say the best part of her e-cigarette is that she can use it ‘‘without scaring that special someone away’’ and can avoid kisses that ‘‘taste like an ashtray’’ when she’s out at her favorite club. Ads for e-cig manufacturer NJOY feature rocker Courtney Love, in an expletive-laced ad, in which supporters of indoor smoking bans are portrayed as “stuffy” and “stuck-up,” while
the rocker is portrayed as free-spirited and independent. e-cig companies have even photoshopped yesteryear celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, John Lennon using their products in ads.
Apart from direct endorsements by celebrities, there have also been subtle attempts by celebrities to promote e-cigs in movies and television shows. In an appearance on the David Letterman show, Katherine Heigl was seen vaping a Smokestik and proclaiming that she was addicted to the product, but it “wasn’t bad for you”. When CBS’s Two Broke Girls accosted their new, noisy upstairs neighbor, they were greeted at the door by Jennifer Coolidge with an e-cig in hand. Sean Penn was seen vaping an Njoy while talking about his work at Haiti at the Clinton Global Initiative.
Much like big tobacco in the past, e-cig companies are exploiting their association with Hollywood. e-cig manufacturers waste no opportunity in posting pictures of celebrities and films that use their products through their social media channels and websites. For instance, Blu e-cig’s Facebook page has a picture of Leonardo DiCaprio smoking what they claim is a Blu e-cig while filming Django Unchained. Blu e-cig’s website asks its customers to take a look at a film called “Plurality” because of the use of their e-cig in the film and provide a web link to the film’s trailer as well as a synopsis.
The insidious practice by big tobacco companies to use celebrity endorsements and testimonials for hawking their products was the norm during the 1920s to 1960s. The practice ended only in 1964 when the FDA banned it.
1. Eliott, S. (2013, August 29). E-Cigarette Makers’ Ads Echo Tobacco’s Heyday. New York Times.
Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/30/business/media/e-cigarette-makers-ads-
2. Johnson, G.A. (2013, October 16). Stephen Dorff: Actor a hot commodity in ads, films. San
Francisco Chronicle. Available at http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Stephen-Dorff-Actor-a-