SKYCIG readies £20m marketing blitz to reduce stigma around e-cigarettes

E-cigarette brand SKYCIG is set to spend £20m on marketing this year to position its products in the lifestyle category and reduce the stigma associated with using e-cigarettes.

SKYCIG aims to position itself as a lifestyle brand.

The brand has appointed Brothers and Sisters to its creative account. The agency has first been tasked with creating a manifesto that will govern how it operates and subsequently markets its products.

SKYCIG founder and chief executive Jacob Fuller told Marketing Week the brand’s forthcoming communications will be a departure from the category’s approach to date of marketing e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking. However, it will still look to appeal to “underdog” smokers.

He said: “This is about lifestyle, like Starbucks is to coffee, we want to be that to the electronic cigarettes category.

“We want to get rid of the stigma that relates to [this category]. If you look at how a smoker feels today from the iconic James Dean back in the day, in 2014 it’s pretty much a no smoking sign. Smokers are the underdog and they’ve been hounded down so much and people at the moment still hide when they use an e-cigarette but this will about shining the light with pride.”

Taking this alternative approach may also mean SKYCIG’s marketing sits easier with the advertising regulators, according to Fuller. SKYCIG launched the first UK TV e-cigarette ad in January last year but it was subsequently banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for falling to make clear the product was an e-cigarette and that it contained nicotine.

The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP and BCAP), the sister bodies of the ASA responsible for writing the UK advertising code, are currently preparing the development of a new set of ad rules for the burgeoning e-cigarette sector because the current codes refer to restricting the advertising of tobacco and are not specific to e-cigarettes. A full public consultation is due imminently.

Fuller added: “The regulations [regarding e-cigarettes] at the moment are all around the relationship with smoking but being a lifestyle brand we will never talk about it being a healthier or cheaper alternative to smoking. We’ll be working with the regulators and will please them on the way.”

SKYCIG plans to develop a UK marketing campaign to launch in the spring, appearing across TV, digital, outdoor, cinema and press.

The substantial financial injection is the result of the SKYCIG brand being bought by the US-based tobacco manufacturer Lorillard for £30m in October last year.

In the same month SKYCIG signed a two-year sponsorship deal with League One football club Wolverhampton Wanderers. Under the deal SKYCIG products are sold and can be used within certain areas at the club’s Molineux Stadium.