The 20-second TV spots, which cannot include the product in the ad, were cleared by industry body Clearcast and launched last month in the Granada region.
However, since airing just after the watershed during I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! on ITV, the Advertising Standards Authority has received what it called a “significant number” of complaints. A second commercial, also recently released, shows a man making similar statements including: “Do you want to see it? I can get it out if you like.”
“The ASA has received a significant number of complaints about two TV ads for VIP electronic cigarettes,” an ASA spokesman said. “Complainants object that the language used in the ads is overly sexual and offensive while others object that the ad sexualises and glamorises e-cigarettes and/or smoking. We have now launched a formal investigation into these ads.”
VIP said the activity represented a “new generation” of TV advertising for e-cigarettes following recent ASA rulings, which included ads being banned for not making it clear the e-cigarettes contained nicotine.
At the time of the launch, VIP co-founder David Levin said: “I think it’s safe to say that our ads could be considered controversial and definitely push the boundaries. However, we make no apologies for this.
“Due to advertising regulations, we were not permitted to include the product in the ad, so we decided to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to appeal to an adult audience and communicate the superior taste of VIP products whilst making it clear that they do contain nicotine.”
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