There’s a very good chance that you’ve seen VIP’s TV campaign at this stage. The cheeky, provocative ad shows a young woman talking about vaping (though some of you might think she’s talking about something else entirely).
The ad has been broadcast on UK TV, but not yet for Irish viewers (apart from on YouTube and in video links to online news stories). Not surprisingly, it has generated more than its share of controversy. Equally unsurprisingly, many of the complaints don’t seem to understand the difference between vaping and smoking.
Controversy and misunderstanding are often close cousins. For instance, an article in The Journal about VIP’s new TV commercial said it was “the first time smoking had been shown in an ad for decades.” Sadly, The Journal was not alone in this inaccurate phrasing, as story after story wrongly used the word “smoking” in reference to the ad.
As we’ve pointed out before, smoke is the gas that comes from burning (in the case of cigarettes, chemically altered tobacco plants); vapour is the result of liquid evaporating. Vaping products are designed to help people quit cigarettes; the last thing in the world we’d want would be for more people to take up traditional smoking.
Dave Levin, co-founder of VIP said: “This advert will mark the first time in almost 50 years that TV audiences see someone exhale what appears to be cigarette smoke on an advert – however, it is actually vapour from an e-cigarette that they will see.”
Others complained that the ad was too provocative, though the past-watershed allotment addresses that problem. (Besides, I am sure you can think of other provocative adverts on TV at the moment so maybe they should be up for the same media discussion?)
Some of the criticism refers to children seeing these ads on TV. These complaints fail to acknowledge that 1- the ad is shown post-watershed, 2- adult-only products (from alcohol to mortgages) are frequently advertised on TV without the slightest whiff of controversy and 3- unlike vaping products, divisive goods such as fast food, soft drinks, micro-transaction mobile games and sugary cereal are marketed directly at young children.
TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor argued that vaping could normalise smoking, not acknowledging that they are two different pursuits. Although, this would not be the first time the TD made uninformed comments.
Levin says that: “VIP is aimed at adults and, as such, all adverts will appear in suitable programmes after the watershed. The Advertising Standards Agency has changed its legislation to reflect that fact.”
The advert was made to be CHIC, FUN and SEXY. We hope the debate of our advert has raised informative awareness about product.