Vaping is a form of smoking that is incredibly popular among teenagers. Vaping is odorless, comes in different flavors, and if that’s not enough, the vaper can be used to do “smoke tricks”.
It isn’t too difficult to see why “vaping” is considered so cool to teenagers. The only problem is that it has recently been linked to heart disease and addiction—causing the FDA to take a dramatic stand that later blew up in its face.
You want cool? We’ll show you cool!
In an effort to sway teenagers from vaping to impress peers, the FDA went on a media frenzy to show teens through online commercials and ads just how uncool vaping really is. The ads show teens taking in a puff of smoke from their vaping device while their skin reveals an awful crawling transformation.
This was meant to scare teenagers into leaving the devices alone, but unfortunately, it did just the opposite. Teens that attended a focus group for the new advertisements found the commercials to be incredibly cool.
They liked the way the skin on the teens transformed every time they took a swift drag from the vaping device. The teens even wanted to know where they might find the same device that would allow their own skin to have the wonderful crawling effect. Needless to say, the FDA tanked on this one.
Old dogs need to learn new tricks
There was indeed a time when adults had the intelligence to create campaigns that spoke to the youth. That day is gone. Today, young people are exposed to a plethora of events that involve school shootings, racial divide, political chaos, and even national crisis through trade wars.
They understand the events that are playing out, and they are actively sharing their opinions about these events through social media. Gone are the days where teens are spooked by scary images of bloody bodies or brains being spilled onto the pavement. This is a lesson that every marketing company should embrace and keep in mind the next time they want to speak to the youth on their level.
Just keep it real
Rather than continuing to play with the emotions of young people through scary stories and images, it would be nice if the FDA could just be straight up with their messaging. Young people can take the harsh realities of drug usage and then make up their own mind as to whether this is something they want to do or not. We can’t force teenagers to do something that they are against no more than we can force them to do something that we want them to do.
It isn’t easy for us adults to let go of our old notion of what works because we are so busy remembering what used to work on us. There was a time when a commercial would show us an image of a pregnant teenage girl going to school and it would literally freak us out. Now, girls are going to school pregnant and everyone at her school congratulates her as if she has just accomplished a major obstacle.
It would be wise for the FDA to put a few teenagers on their public relations committee so that they can better aim their message at the teen target with efficiency. Let’s hope that in time the FDA realizes that we are in the year 2018…not 1988. Times have changed and so have the teenagers that live within those times.