You can learn so much about the tobacco industry by reading Trinkets and Trash each month. The news for December talks about the investment between Altria and Juul, and the typical holiday season promotions.
Altria agreed to keep e-cigarettes away from minors and ceased production and sale of its MarkTen electronic cigarette product per information to the FDA. Frankly, the MarkTen wasn’t a big money-maker. Two days later they announced a 35%, $12.8 billion dollar investment in Juul, which holds over 70% of the e-cigarette market. It is Altria’s way of preparing for a future where adult smokers choose non-combustible products. But both Altria and Juul are not being truthful to the public. Altria says Juul is “a world leader in switching adult smokers,” and Juul CEO said the investment “would improve the lives of the world’s one billion adult cigarette smokers.” But Juul didn’t get to the top of the e-cigarette market on the backs of adult smokers, but on the initiation of teens to vaping who otherwise would not have started using a nicotine product. According to the University of Michigan report National Adolescent Drug Trends in 2018, “increases in adolescent vaping from 2017 to 2018 were the largest ever recorded in the past 43 years for any adolescent substance use outcome in the U.S.”
Why celebrate Christmas when you can celebrate “Dipmas” with a drool log, appropriately named. Nothing like giving the gift of addiction and mouth cancer to those you love. Grizzly smokeless tobacco didn’t even bother showing their product, just a recipe for eggnog, without the egg part of it. Red Seal direct mail featured the iconic red truck with a Christmas tree in the back, and featured a tip to keep Christmas light strings organized in addition to coupons for more product. Skoal featured young African American men and women in a holiday video on the brand’s website occasionally pinching a dip while dressed like Santa.
Virginia Slims ads are still showing beautiful, thin women in stunning clothing, sans cigarettes, because, let’s face it, smoking is so unattractive. The brand has to do something to pull women in, so now they are including recipes. We’ve come a long way baby, but we still manage to “assume” women want to cook. American Spirit sent a direct mail card and an email to its users wishing them Happy Holidays “from our family to you,” with a picture of the employees and an invitation to view a video on the brand’s website. The email featured a photo of a hand-written letter “signed” by employees.
Trinkets and Trash gives us an idea of what is happening in tobacco and vaping marketing and what to look out for in the coming months. You can subscribe to the e-newsletter to keep up with the latest news.
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