BAT looks to create ‘modern brand’ with first e-cig ads

British American Tobacco is returning to UK TV screens after more than 20 years with a ‘responsible’ campaign for its e-cigarette brand Vype that comes ahead of an expected clamp down on the industry by the ad watchdog.

Video: The TV ad for e-cigarette brand Vype


The TV ads will run from today (17 February) until the 6 April and mark a continuation of its “Experience the Breakthrough” messaging developed by Iris Worldwide last year but only used in print and outdoor ads. The TV spot promises “satisfaction for vapers”, the name given to people who smoke e-cigarettes. It shows a man and woman running through a city before passing through a cloud of vapour and being propelled into the air.

Nigel Hardy, head of UK and Ireland for BAT subsidiary Nicoventures which launched Vype, says it has made a “significant” multi-million pound investment in the campaign, which will be supported by outdoor, press and digital ads. He says the company hopes to reach 70 per cent of adult smokers with the campaign, building awareness and helping to position Vype as a leading brand in the e-cigarette sector.

“In Vype we are creating a modern brand that we need to communicate in a way that really appeals to smokers. We’re not focusing on the product, we’re building a brand which will be here for the long term,” he says.

Interest in e-cigarettes from large tobaccos firms has stepped up, with BAT rival Imperial Tobacco set to launch its own e-cigarettes this year. Meanwhile SKYCIG is planning to spend £20m on marketing this year, positioning its brand as a lifestyle choice in a shift away from previous campaigns that marketed e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking and which were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority.

It is likely that further restrictions on advertising e-cigarettes will be put in place by the ASA, after it admitted that the current code was not designed to regulate the relatively new product. The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP), the sister body of the ASA responsible for writing the UK ad code, are currently working on a new set of ad rules for the sector.

Hardy says Vype hopes to avoid falling foul of ASA regulations by clearly stating that Vype contains nicotine and is only for people aged 18 and over. Its TV ads will only be shown after the 9pm watershed and in press publications with a readership that is more than 85 per cent adult. It also has different straplines for the TV spot and print and digital ads, to reflect the different rules that govern the media.

“We feel we have been responsible in the way we present Vype in our ad, focusing on the brand rather than the product,” he adds.