Electronic cigarette (e-cig) manufacturers are relying on patriotic images and slogans as a sales pitch to subliminally influence individuals to form an emotional connection with their brands and generate sales. Many ads for e-cig companies contain images of cultural icons such as the American eagle and the Statue of Liberty that drive home the point that the nation is built on twin core values of freedom and independence.
Social media channels for e-cig brands are replete with patriotic posts and images that celebrate American holidays and events. During Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, e-cig advertising images of a majority of brands included the image of the American flag and a note of salutation. For Presidents Day, many ads included images of Mount Rushmore and President Washington. Advertisements under this theme use words with strong patriotic connotations such as “freedom,” “independence,” and “had a dream.” A Green Smoke Electronic Cigarettes ad has the image of Martin Luther King addressing a large gathering, we are made to believe, for his acclaimed “I Have a Dream” speech. The sub-text for the ad asks, “What’s Your Dream?”
A variant of the patriotic theme is one of nostalgia. The Fin branding group’s, manufacturer of Fin e-cigs, advertising strategy is centered around recreating images from the 1950s and 1960s, a period of time in America when civil rights struggles took center stage. One of the most striking advertising images for Fin e-cigs is the image of a 1960s diner. This image of an empty diner is an eerie reminder of a time of segregation. In February 1960 a group of black students from A&T North Carolina College were refused service because they sat in seats reserved for white people. Their peaceful sit-down helped ignite a national movement that challenged the racial inequality that existed at that point of time. Fin seems to have been aiming to recreate a call for equality and freedom in this ad. What comes to mind, however, is the image of a lonely smoker. Is smoking an electronic cigarette more lonely than segregation? In other ads, Fin continues with a “vintage” theme. In a series of ads with a modern twist on a vintage look, women dressed in 70’s clothing, “pursuing happiness” and “equality” are shown vaping e-cigs at diners and in vintage automobiles.
To ride the crest of Americans wanting to buy “American made” products, e-juice manufacturers are keen to label their products as “All American”, “tested in the US” and “American made.” Research shows that Americans are willing to pay a premium for products that are American as they believe they are helping the economy recuperate from its recent economic downturn and also because they believe the product to be safer and of higher quality. 1
1. Tsai, W. S. (2010). Patriotic advertising and the creation of the citizen-consumer. Journal of Media and Communication Studies, 2(3), 76-84.