186413 Moving online: Tobacco brands' use of digital marketing

Tuesday, October 28, 2008: 9:35 AM

Olivia Wackowski, MPH , School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
M. Jane Lewis, DrPH , School of Public Health, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ
Background/Objective: Internet marketing e-mails and brand websites are recent tobacco industry tactics for advertising brands and connecting with consumers. Tobacco brand e-mail allows tobacco companies to reach consumers quickly and directly and lead them to tobacco brand websites for further brand exposure and interaction. These websites not only provide information about products, but also involving experiential content. This presentation will describe the contents and advantages of these digital channels.

Methods: Results are obtained through review of previously secret tobacco industry documents, general literature on Internet marketing, surveillance of six cigarette brand websites over a 3 year period, and content analysis of over 150 tobacco brand e-mails from the Trinkets and Trash Collection.

Results: Like direct mail, tobacco e-mails serve a number of functions, including promoting new products, providing updates about promotions/programs (e.g. sweepstakes), informing about “smokers' rights” issues, soliciting consumer feedback and driving smokers to brand websites. These websites include relationship-building features such as games, message boards and lifestyle content intended to engage users and incent return visits. Importantly, both channels allow tobacco companies to track smokers' message exposure (e.g., frequency of visits) and build their databases of consumer information. According to documents, the convergence of these techniques with other offline types of marketing work to strengthen overall brand power.

Conclusions: These digital marketing channels are relevant to today's technology and offer the industry significant advantages, not the least of which is the ability to transmit information under the radar screen of the public health community.

Learning Objectives:
1)List the types of functions and promotions carried by tobacco brand e-mail. 2)Describe the kinds of features found on tobacco brand websites. 3)Discuss the advantages of these digital marketing channels for tobacco companies.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Olivia Wackowski, MPH, is a Research Associate at the UMDNJ School of Public Health, and manages the day-to-day activities of Trinkets and Trash, a collection and surveillance system of tobacco promotional materials. She has previously been involved with and given presentations on pilot studies about tobacco brand websites and e-mail.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.