While BAT Korea, a British tobacco company, is introducing new liquid electronic cigarettes in Korea, it has released a music video for promoting tobacco advertising on YouTube, causing a controversial issue.
The BAT Korea side said, “There is no problem under the current law because it advertised tobacco equipment, not tobacco,” but critics say it is excessive marketing following a drop in market share and poor performance. In particular, critics say that it could induce teenagers to smoke.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Aug. 24, BAT Korea released a promotional music video titled "Global Sense X Loopy & Nafla" on YouTube and Facebook on Aug. 11 prior to the launch of its new liquid electronic cigarette product "glo sens" in Korea.
Critics point out that the music video, which featured a singer who is popular with teenagers, is virtually equivalent to a cigarette ad video, with the new liquid e-cigarette named "glo sense" still appearing.
The number of views on the music video released on Aug. 12 has exceeded 450,000 so far. In addition to the release of the music video, BAT Korea is also engaged in aggressive marketing such as an event where only 5,000 people are first-come-first-served and given 20 percent discount coupons.
Regarding this controversy, some point out that BAT Korea's poor performance is the cause of this attempt. BAT Korea, launched in 1990, had held more than 20 percent of the market share until the early 2000s, but it fell to 12 percent last year.
It posted an operating loss of 1.48 billion won in 2016 but shifted to a surplus of 37.67 million won in 2017 as it underwent restructuring. However, it again posted an operating loss of around 700 million won last year.
"As BAT Korea is losing ground to Philip Morris and KT&G in the tobacco-type e-cigarette market, the company is over-marketing," an industry source said.