Deconstruction Gallery

Fin Electronic Cigarettes

2015 Bad Ad Contest Winner

Fin Electronic Cigarettes

by Gabrielle Louise Kim, 11th Grade, Arrowhead High School in Hartland, WI

This FIN Electronic Cigarettes advertisement was featured in May 2013’s InStyle magazine, a fashion magazine geared towards women in their twenties and thirties who are interested in fashion and current trends. The primary image in this ad is a young, brown woman gazing off into the distance. Her 1950s-inspired pin-up style dress is very short, accentuating her toned legs and bosom. She is wearing red lipstick, eye makeup, and her brunette hair wrapped in a bandana. Next to her face the woman holds an electronic cigarette in her hand. The background of the photograph consists of a vintage silver airplane in a desert landscape with a grey sky. This muted combination of colors draws the eye to the woman’s bright red dress and the large FIN Electronic Cigarettes logo in the upper left corner. Above this logo reads, “Rewrite the Rules.” The bottom of the ad reads, “Redeem your $5 coupon” next to a close up photo of the product. FIN’s electronic cigarettes are designed to look like a regular cigarette, but they release vapor instead of smoke.  Besides the product name and coupon link, there is no written product information.

The ad’s nod to the 1950s utilizes nostalgia to take the audience back to the forties and fifties when smoking cigarettes was considered and marketed as stylish for women. Smoking at this time period was sometimes viewed also as an opportunity for women to rebel and show their equality with men. The ad also utilizes association. Through its vintage style and the text reading “Rewrite the Rules,” it suggests the women of today are duplicating this rebellion when they smoke electronic cigarettes. However, the ad fails to illustrate health issues that came along with smoking such as increased risks of cancers, especially lung cancer. Since nicotine constricts blood vessels, babies born to smokers are at high risk of health problems such as gastrointestinal abnormalities and heart defects. While scientists are unsure of how risky electronic cigarettes truly are, this product does contain nicotine and therefore could also cause birth defects. Yet the ad does not inform the reader of any potential health hazards; it makes the idea of smoking like the women of the 1950s more appealing.

The ad also uses the image of the healthy, beautiful looking model to engage the reader’s eye to her face.  Her brown, toned body exemplifies health and wellness. Her face, made-up and wrinkle free, exudes youthfulness associated with beauty. By using the tactic of beautiful people, FIN Electronic Cigarettes attempts to draw the reader into the advertisement. The placement of the electronic cigarette next to her face is no accident; this association between the beauty of the model and the product suggests that using the product will make women also appear beautiful.

The company also utilizes the tactic bribery to help persuade people to buy their product for the first time in order to spark habitual usage. By offering a coupon, the ad is enticing the reader to purchase FIN Electronic Cigarettes. The ad creates the idea in the reader’s mind that if they purchase the product, they will receive five dollars in return. Electronic cigarettes contain addictive nicotine and one cigarette could lead to multiple cigarettes a day. In reality, the five dollars saved on the first purchase is miniscule compared to how much an electronic cigarette user will actually spend if they become addicted.

The model's face is expressionless, almost doll-like, as she glamorously holds her electronic cigarette. Her perfectly placed makeup and impeccably coordinated outfit tells us that a woman’s appearance is more important than her character. This overused idea is called objectification—where a woman becomes a thing and not a person. It’s used in lots of ads, and just like FIN recycled the look of the 1950s, it is recycling old ideas of women, too. Overall, this advertisement attempts to create a positive image for electronic cigarettes but creates unrealistic images of the product and women in the process.