Tobacco Advertising, We Can Live Without It

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Is your brand getting shut down for something that is out of your control?
Do you work for an industry that the public just doesn’t seem fit?

And we’re not talking about anything illegal here. For years, cigarettes, alcohol and other products that promote ‘an unhealthy’ lifestyle, has been under siege! These are big name companies that house and umbrella tonnes of jobs.

Several years ago, governments came down hard on tobacco companies and limited their advertising on TV and print. By linking smoking to addiction and lung cancer, the move was to discourage the act of smoking and to punish the tobacco companies. Is this what really happened though?

It certainly did not. If anything, this benefited the tobacco companies.

There are 4 ways this could play out (using just 2 companies in this scenario):

• Both companies advertise, splitting the market.
• Your company advertises, and the other doesn’t, putting your company ahead.
• Your company doesn’t advertise, and they do, putting you behind.
• Or both companies don’t advertise, still splitting the market, but saving A LOT on advertising.

By executing the ban, the government eliminated the first 3 options, giving the tobacco companies their preferred choice. They saved millions in advertising, while still holding on to their valued customers, with no competition to up throw the balance. It was always optimum solution, but they just could not implement it on their own.

The moves and counter moves among firms can be analysed with Game Theory.

A Game Theory model can be seen in this simpler scenario. Let’s say I’m in love with a beautiful maiden, but 2 other gunslingers are yearning for her heart too. We decide to settle this with a good old fashion show down but unfortunately; I’m a terrible shot!

So picture this, I’m standing in a field with my gun, and so are they. We’re all facing each other with our weapons in hand, and the girl we all love in mind. I only have a 20% success rate of hitting my target, cause lets face it, I’m terrible at this. Whereas my opponents, Mr. X and Mr. Y, have a success rate of 70% and 80% chance of hitting their targets, respectively. It is my go to shoot first. Who do I pick?
If your thinking Mr. X or Mr. Y, you are wrong. If I did manage to hit one of them (which I probably couldn’t) I’d be left with a shot down, and a well aimed bullet coming my way. Game Theory explains that I purposely miss, moving the turn over to Mr. X or Mr. Y, in hopes of them killing each other off. As they are a bigger threat to one another, than I am to either of them, I stand a better chance surviving and smooching the girl of my dreams.

So with talk of banning hard alcohol and junk food ads to improve dietary habits in the UK, Game Theory is worth analysing and considering by officials before making any major decision, as it would inadvertently help companies rather than hurt it.

So don’t fret and hang in there!

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How would your brand participate in the golden age of the geek?

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