Sponsorship of sporting events was a key promotional tactic used by the tobacco companies (eg. Marlboro, Virginia Slims) until the practice was prohibited by the Masters Settlement Agreement. However, sponsorships have once again taken center stage in tobacco marketing with electronic cigarette (eCig) companies sponsoring a range of events including NASCAR rallies, football games and other sporting events.
There are three primary reasons that tobacco companies choose to actively promote sports events.1 1) By association with healthy/active lifestyles tobacco companies can obfuscate the connection between tobacco products and diseases, 2) the events serve as entry point to the youth market (especially endorsements from sports players), and 3) it continues to promote the product in a positive manner while circumventing any advertising restrictions.
As in the past, the strategy is to encourage consumers to perceive eCigs as not harmful because of its association with sporting events. With the rapid increase in eCig use both by teens and adults, advertising restrictions similar to those for combustible cigarettes need to be applied to the digital product as well.
1. Davis JA. The Olympics Games effect: How sports marketing builds strong brands. John Wiley & Sons Singapore Pte.Ltd. 2012.
2. Erik. LoLo Jones Qualifies For London Olympics By Burning Up The Track. See Which Electronic Cigarettes Is Also A Hot Topic. Solar Cigarette. http://www.solarcigarette.com/blog/lolo-jones-qualifies-london-olympics/.
3. Tensda London Olympic disposable electronic cigarette: Alibaba. http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/1488508636/Electronic_cigarette_china_manufacturer_of_Olympic/showimage.html.