This week the airwaves have been all a-buzz with juicy gossip about an alleged plan for Lady Gaga to endorse Blu e-cigs in a video. It would seem that Jacob Fuller, head of the British arm of the tobacco-owned cigalike concern, told freelance journalist Andrew Cave about the plan, and Cave published the story in the London Daily Telegraph, setting groupies of the iconoclastic star all a-twitter, both literally and figuratively.
It may come as a surprise to Americans that Blu, which we see plastered all over our convenience stores, is virtually unknown in Britain, except by those who are savvy about the vaping supplies scene. When Big Tobacco's Lorillard swaggered into the industry in 2012 by buying up the independent Blu e-cigs, a clean-hands company that had never sold poison, they bought virtually half of the market with typical Big Tobacco advertising outlays, but they kept operations on the west side of the Atlantic.
That changed this year when Lorillard rechristened Skycigs, a British clean-hands company it swallowed in 2013, as Blu UK. It is this British company that Fuller heads, and for whom the brash pop idol was said to be poised to sing.
But then she wasn't. Whether the celeb's sense of smell finally wouldn't permit her to shill for poison dealers, or whether she heeded the current buzz about the evils of marketing e-cigs to the nubile set through endorsements by popular teen idols like herself, or whether simply not enough GPB were offered, no one knows, but the projected sponsorship turned out in just a couple of days to be a non-starter.
So who's got egg on her or his face? Gaga? She's mum, although her fans are chattering like magpies. (They are claiming to have noticed that some frames of her recent video “Do what you want [with my body]” video show her vaping , but I can't find them.) Cave, the journalist? He was quick to cover his backside by producing a prudently recorded tape of his exclusive interview with Fuller, which he published in CorpComm (“The Magazine for the Corporate Communicator”) and then Forbes. And there's no doubt about it, the British Blu brass definitely said it. Blu's stateside PR firm managed a terse, “Jacob Fuller with Blu UK mis-spoke. He did not provide accurate information, and Blu eCigs does not have any relationship or associations with Lady Gaga.” It would seem to be Fuller whose visage sports the facial omelette. Whether or not an executive guillotine is being installed in the corporate office of the former SkyCig remains to be seen.
Commenting on the flap later on , in CorpComms, for which his article on e-cig advertising challenges had been written before the Fuller interview, Cave mused “in 27 years of writing for newspapers, I can’t recall a chief executive that I’ve interviewed performing a swift about-face and confessing that he “mis-spoke” when he gave me an exclusive story. Until now, that is.”
What this will do for Lorillard's efforts to grab European e-cig markets for Big Tobacco, just as they've done on the Yankee side of the pond, remains to be seen. What it will do for the chic chanteuse, however, is clear. Every minute in the spotlight is like money in the bank.
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