Tuesday, October 25, 2011
A brief online ad by Republication presidential candidate Herman Cain is generating controversy over its use of a cigarette, yes, a real cigarette.
In the one-minute ad, Cain campaign chief of staff Mark Block tries to inspire voters toward Cain’s platform and concludes his message with a brief puff on a cigarette.
The cigarette tactic was apparently reviewed by the campaign and deliberately included in the ad to generate buzz, which worked. Block’s momentary puff on a cigarette took a relatively non-descript online campaign piece and elevated it to a national news story.
The use of the cigarette is clearly intentional and part of a message that people should be free of government regulation to make individual choices like smoking. As far as advertising is concerned, smoking is the most highly regulation form of marketing as most tobacco advertising has been banned for years.
Cain was CEO of Godfather’s Pizza CEO and was also CEO and chair of the National Restaurant Association helping lead its opposition to restaurant smoking bans, which is a battle clearly lost.
It would be interesting to see how this ad would be received if Block had puffed on an electronic cigarette instead of a real one. Using an electronic cigarette in the ad might have eliminated the easy target that cigarette smoking has become for so many in media and society, while showing Cain’s campaign as more cutting edge and tech savvy instead of the old school stereotype of smoking.
Even though only about 20 percent of people still smoke regular cigarettes as legal tobacco products, they have been demonized to the point of a back alley drug, cheap wine or worse. In recent years, the new electronic or smokeless cigarettes are becoming more popular and accepted, although questions remain about the impact of their nicotine vapor and other ingredients.
Using a battery charged system to heat disposable cartridges, electronic cigarettes generate an odorless nicotine vapor without the paper and tobacco products in regular cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes continue to gain traction and interest as the number of brands and consumers grows daily through mostly online marketing, and some retail sales. A recent New York magazine story noted that the number of posts on the Electronic Cigarette Forum are at about 4.2 million for 2011 compared to some 30,000 three years ago in 2008.
So, instead of simply raising the ire of the anti-smoking crowd, Block and the Cain campaign could have used this opportunity to raise the profile of an increasingly viable alternative to smoking cigarettes and ingenious product developed in reaction to the anti-smoking movement.
At a minimum, the Cain smoking ad shows how far the anti-smoking crowd has gone to the point where a single puff on a legal tobacco product in an online ad generates such significant angst. In addition, recent stories showed opposition to showing smoking in movies and television, even in historical context. It is also worth noting that President Obama smoked cigarettes at one time, but has apparently kicked the habit for now.
Cain’s presidential hopes don’t likely hinge on the perception created by Block’s cigarette smoking in this ad, as most public opposition to smoking stems from the odor created by cigarettes, which you can’t smell over the computer monitor or television screen, or from electronic cigarettes.
What are your thoughts on the smoking in this ad and whether an e-cig would have worked better?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
If an online petition is only as good as the website it's signed on, then the recent electronic cigarette online petition to the White House was about as successful as it could be. The We The People online petition asking the Obama Administration to "recognize electronic cigarettes as an effective alternative to smoking and support job creation in this new industry" has now reached its goal of 5,000 signatures some eight days before the October 27 deadline. A number of manufactures, companies, websites, blogs (this one included) and others promoted the petition since September 27 after it was created by Eric S. of Cohoes, N.Y. and submitted the the Safe Cig and the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association. We will see if this petition has any real impact, but it helped get at least 5,000 electronic cigarette supporters engergized, and E Cig Werks will keep you posted on further developments.