It’s probably one of the worse ads of all time, even Rebecca Black’s Friday song is more enjoyable to watch, but it’s not VIP’s first ad to be nominated for Turkey of the Year…
Surely the point of self-regulation is to prevent MPs creating laws that over restrict our industry, but quite why e-cigarette brand VIP has been allowed to run their tacky ad astounds me. As a result, Labour MP Geraint Davies is asking questions about CAP’s ability to protect the public.
First thing first, it’s not a quality ad, cheap production values, girl is a bit tarty and it looks like it’s aimed at lads down at the pub. It’s written in a cheap porno style (though style is probably the wrong word to use). You’d be excused for thinking it was created by the client themselves after a few pints at the local pole dancing bar, but was done by a marketing agency in Knutsford. At least when brands like Benetton do controversial ads they do them well.
The big news story is it’s the first ad to show someone smoking on UK TV since 1965, which shocks me as both a parent and as an adman. The other news story is why it’s been allowed to air at all.
The ad features a woman in a black dress, trying to sound like she wants to give a bloke in a bar a blow job (get the pun that created the ad idea). But yes, she’s actually talking about the e-cigarette. The kind of stuff a 5th former would write.
“I want you to get it out. So I can see it. And I want to touch it. And feel it. Then I want to put it in my mouth. So I can put my lips around it. Now… [HERE SHE PANTS, MEANWHILE THE AUDIENCE ARE FALLING OFF THEIR CHAIRS TRYING NOT TO LAUGH IT’S SO BAD] I want you to… [AT THIS POINT SHE REVEALS SHE WANTS TO SMOKE A VIP, AUDIENCE GROANS].
In September a VIP ad got almost 100 complaints to the ASA (not upheld) complaining it was ‘sexually suggestive’ and glamourised smoking, meanwhile Clearcast (the body that vets ads) stated “it did not think the ad was overtly sexual, sexualised e-cigarettes or suggest VIP e-cigs were a sexy product.” Really! What planet are they on? However, the ad can now only be aired after 9pm.
An earlier ad got over 1000 complaints and the ASA ruled it couldn’t be aired before 11pm.
A VIP ad featuring Jeremy Lee was nominated by Campiagn for Turkey of the Year, commenting that the ad “uses puerile innuendo such as ‘I want you to put it in your mouth, wrap your lips around it and suck’ – looks and sounds like it was created by giggling schoolboys.”
But the brand and its agency are milking the publicity in the vain hope it’ll create a big name for both. However, as far as brand values goes it makes the brand look very low rent and unprofessional.
A spokesman (or woman with a deep husky voice) said, “it represented a new generation” of television advertising for e-cigarettes following recent ASA rulings”. Co-founder of VIP, David Levin, makes no apologies and calls the ad “tongue-in-cheek”, though I’m not sure that’s where his ad wants to put her tongue! (We can all be purile!)
Meanwhile, it has raised question about CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) and self regulations and if this ad can appear on UK TV, what else will? It will become a stick to beat our industry with, and sadly people will recall our industry’s low moments more than our highs. This is at the very opposite end of the scale from John Lewis.
Labour will consider banning e-cigarette TV ads if they win the next general election, MP Geraint Davies has introduced a private member’s bill, which would outlaw all ads for e-cigarettes and prohibit their sale to under-18s. He has also accused CAP of “weakness and naïvety” in allowing commercials to “suggest smoking is cool and acceptable again”.
Under the new rules from the CAP, adverts for e-cigarettes must not encourage non-smokers to use them, it must be made clear that the product is an e-cigarette and not a tobacco product. Ads must not show them being used by anyone under the age of 25, or appeal to children (under 18) or appear in programmes popular with children or teenagers.
An ad using an image of a Flake 99-style ice-cream to promote Ten Motives e-cigarettes has been banned in October by the ASA for appealing to children. Which begs the question, can we trust this sector and more than the cigarette industry?
Manufacturers can also claim that e-cigarettes are safer or healthier than smoking tobacco, even though they contain nicotine.
Critics cite health concerns as a major issue with e-cigarettes, The World Health Organisation have warned the vapour released by these devices may have hidden dangers and there have been calls for more research into health effects. Other concerns are that they ‘re-normalise’ smoking – currently about 2.5million people use e-cigarettes in the UK.
The debate on Monday’s LBC was fascinating and the justification by some that it’s encouraging a better practice than smoking was rejected by many, as one caller said, “Just because it’s less bad doesn’t make it good. Good is stopping smoking all together.”
2o sec TV ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8mkUQqukmk
The really bad version (don’t laugh) She Wants You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N5aiVog-jQ
Two ads, second features Jeremy Lee - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9ch7KKn7yE