Mad about Marketing Practices

Marketing practices for tobacco, food, and increasingly e-cigarettes can serve to make many people mad. We witnessed first hand this week a prime example in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing about e-cigarette marketing practices.

Senator Jay Rockefeller opened up the hearing, saying “I’m feeling on edge about this.” It went downhill from there. Ordinarily Rockefeller is known for a relaxed demeanor, but that was clearly not his mindset on Wednesday afternoon. He got more heated, saying toward the end of the meeting:

I’m ashamed of you. I don’t know how you sleep at night. I don’t know how you get out of bed in the morning but for the green of dollars.

What About Blu?The source of all this agitation is a conviction that we are witnessing a replay of marketing tactics used by tobacco companies to lead youth into smoking. To make their point, the senators pulled out ads for e-cigarettes and compared them to hated campaigns for burning cigarettes.

We witnessed a similar emotional intensity to what we see when the subject is the marketing of soda, fast food, and junk food. And, interestingly, the same parallels to tobacco are drawn.

Occasionally, the emotion gets out ahead of the facts. E-cigarettes are not precisely the same as burning cigarettes. They do hold potential — yet to be fully defined — to reduce the harm that burning cigarettes are doing.

McDonald’s, Coke, and other food and beverage companies are not the same as the tobacco industry, either. We might find parallels, but we will also find differences.

When you judge the impact of advertising, it helps to have data. Gut instincts can fool you into believing whatever you want to believe.

“Get mad, then get over it.” — Colin Powell

Click here to read more from Reuters, and here to read more

Mad Men Smoke, photograph © amira_a / flickr

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