Many e-cigarette (eCig) companies are using music as a medium of promotion and taking advantage of music’s ability to target select demographics and create strong cultural and emotional connections. By holding promotional events in nightclubs and sponsoring musical events for those 18 and older, eCig companies are simultaneous able to fend off criticism about targeting teenagers while at the same time marketing their product to the youth demographic at these events as an urban party essential.
Blu eCigs, a leading sponsor of music events, has sponsored at least half a dozen high profile musical festivals and parties in 2013 including the Governors Ball Music Festival, SXSW, Bonnaroo Music Festival, and the Sasquatch Music Festival. Speaking the language of music on its website, Blu has links to its sponsored events, images of consumers partying at these events, and interesting articles on the culture of music. It also has several videos of the events and over hundreds of photos of individuals enjoying themselves at the events. Other eCig brands too have sponsored musical events although none of them to the extent of Blu eCigs. NJOY sponsored 2013’s Coachella Music Festival and Bloog sponsored a 3-day musical event at Camp Bisco.
Apart from creating strong cultural ties with teenagers through these sponsorships, the events also serve as an opportunity to gain more consumers as eCig companies often offer “free samples” to consumers attending these events. According to a report by a group of Senators, in 2013, the six leading eCig manufacturers distributed free samples at atleast 348 events. 1
By popularizing cigarettes in the party environment, the tobacco industry is seeking to liken eCigs to drinks, something to use have fun with during a party. This social accessory image of the eCigs misleads teens by making them think that the product is safe. Of course, what the eCig marketing companies fail to promote is the nicotine addiction that use of eCigs promote.
1. Gateway to Addiction? A Survey of Popular Electronic Cigarette Manufacturers and Marketing to Youth. Available at http://www.durbin.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=06acef25-48b0-4d9a-857a-74f7b4fcd4d5