Nicoventures Trading Ltd is a company owned by BAT. It carried a video for the Vype brand on https://www.govype.com/uk/ in June 2019. The video featured information about a collaboration between Henry Holland’s fashion label House of Holland and Vype to create five Vype x House of Holland Limited Edition designs for the Vype ePen 3.
J&J challenged whether the claims about the Vype electronic cigarette product had the effect of promoting nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and their components online and were therefore in breach of the Code.
In 2017, J&J complained to ASA about an online Vype promotion [link], and the next year the pharma company listed a catalogue of gripes concerning Vype online descriptions [link]. In 2019, The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Action on Smoking and Health and Stopping Tobacco Organizations & Products lodged a complaint about Vype’s use of celebrities and advertising on Instagram [link].
ASA stated: “Nicoventures Retail (UK) Ltd t/a Vype believed the claims on their product pages were factual flavour and/or ingredient descriptions using recognised flavour descriptors that enabled consumers to make a purchasing decision. Vype stated words such as ‘notes’, ‘hints’, aroma’, ‘blend’, ‘floral’, ‘inspired’ and ‘nuances’ were commonly used for other aromatic consumer goods, such as coffee, tonic water, alcohol and perfume. They stated that those words provided accurate and factual descriptions about the product, so that consumers could identify the most suitable product for them. As e-liquid often contained more than two flavours or ingredients, it was important to provide an indication of the degree, scale and depth of the flavour, taste, smell, ingredients and characteristics the user would experience in each case.”
“They added that such descriptions were needed to provide complete information about the product and allow consumers to make an informed purchasing decision. They added that the descriptions typically consisted of between six and ten words. Vype said consumers accessed their website, where the claims appeared, to find detailed information about their products. The flavour description was more likely to help a consumer buy a product more suited to their specific needs, rather than make a purchase they would not otherwise have made. They considered their customer base ‒ adult smokers or former smokers of tobacco products ‒ were selective and paid a higher degree of attention to their products than the average consumer.”
ASA concluded that many of the words and phrases included in the product listings went further than simple factual claims and constituted descriptive, promotional language.
It also believed that ‘savings’ claims were presented as more than just factual pricing information, “and were instead presented as an incentive to purchase the advertised products and served to make the purchase of the products appear more attractive”.
Finally, regarding Holland’s video, it decided “considered the ads promoted e-cigarettes and because the use of a collaboration with a fashion designer with celebrity status was promotional rather than factual in nature, we concluded it was in breach of the Code.”