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Tobacco Industry’s Newest Target: Hipsters


In a recent Media Network Web-cast with the Office of Smoking Health, Stacey Anderson and her colleagues presented on their research: Acceptable Rebellion’: Marketing Hipster Aesthetics to Sell Camel Cigarettes in the U.S.

As an urban resident myself, hipsters are a trademark of my area. Ever impressed with their sense of style, I’ll see hipsters hanging out on their stoops or in front of dive bars/cultural venues with their bicycles, tight pants, plaid and retro/alternative clothing. However, just as ubiquitous as the edgy haircuts and tattoe are the cigarettes in their hands. Which is not far from the truth as 56% of hipsters smoke.

So why are these numbers so high? According to the presentation/article, hipsters seek outlets for freedom and self-expression. They admire the kitsch, absurd, eccentric, and Camel has positioned itself to deliver what hipsters are attracted to.

Why has Camel targeted hipsters? For one, since mainstream advertising options have been restricted, tobacco industries have become acquainted with targeting underground, “alternative lifestyles” (ex. the LGBT community).

What makes hipsters easier targets is their often nihilistic outlook on life that influences them to disregard traditional health warnings against smoking.

The tobacco industry is also aware that “underground” culture influences the market, and while hipsters typically intend to be anti-establishment, they often set mainstream trends.

To overcome the fact that hipsters reject mainstream messages, tobacco marketers admittedly aim to get hipsters to think that they started the trend of smoking.

Just as the tobacco industry has targeted sub-cultural groups by essentially manipulating and inverting their own values against themselves, we need to be less straightforward with our intervention strategy. For instance, perhaps we should expose the manipulation of the tobacco industry’s attempt to infuse a corporate, mainstream product into their culture. Another idea that the presenter brought up would be to use advertising campaigns that hipsters may find attractive, like internet based relatable UrbanFuel.org and XpoZLV.com. The latter of which also hosts smokefree alternative concerts.

For more information on this, an abstract and summary of the article is available at the following link. ‘Acceptable Rebellion’: Marketing Hipster Aesthetics to Sell Camel Cigarettes in the U.S.,  (Tobacco Control, June 2010), Yogi Hendlin, Ph.D. candidate, UC Los Angeles and Stacey Anderson, Ph.D., UC San Francisco.

Blog post by Emilia Dunham

Network Program Associate

 

 

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