BAT accused of bypassing policy on e-cigarette advertising

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British American Tobacco (BAT) is marketing e-cigarettes and heated cigarettes with pictures of attractive models and using hashtags such as “I dare you to try it”, despite a crackdown last year after it paid social media influencers to promote its products, reports The Guardian. BAT had come under fire after hiring young models to sell its products despite having an explicit policy banning under-25s from appearing in adverts.

In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority banned e-cigarette-makers from paying influencers to promote their products on Instagram. After the ban, Facebook and Instagram both announced in December that they would no longer allow influencers to promote tobacco or e-cigarettes. Since the policy changes, experts say BAT is now running its own accounts that mirror the youth-oriented content promoted by influencers, using models posing under red lights or at festivals.

The report says the company is also using paid adverts and branded content on Facebook, despite it not being allowed under the social media platform’s rules. The adverts include a number from the Glo Poland account, which were put up at the beginning of March.

Simon Cleverly, group head of corporate affairs at BAT, said: “All our marketing is guided by our international marketing principles. Fundamental to these is the requirement that any communication will be aimed only at adult consumers and is not designed to engage or appeal to youth.”

He said that they had a clear purpose to make adult smokers aware of these new products, so they needed to use the channels they are on. “In many respects, social media allows us to exercise greater control than more traditional media, like billboards and TV, and as such, ensuring our communications are targeting adult consumers only,” he said.

Full report in The Guardian

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