The My First Vape Meme has caused a storm on social media due to its mock advert for a child sized vape device. The packaging shows a child sucking on a child-like e-cigarette emblazoned with an eerily friendly looking smiley face. The meme went viral and has caused hilarity and controversy in equal measures. The meme could be cast off as another dark joke on the internet or could be a mere surface of something far more insidious. Are we looking at a joke or a business strategy?
Who made the meme?
Adam Padilla has come forward as the creator of the meme. He is the co-founder of the advertising and marketing consultancy firm BrandFire, who are responsible for working with many big brands. Adam Padilla is known for being a “disruptive social media personality” and it is therefore no surprise that he is responsible for the meme.
BrandFire it turns out, has worked with companies such as IKEA, Coca Cola and Pfizer, a pharmaceutical conglomerate.
Who are Pfizer?
Pfizer are a pharmaceutical corporation and is one of the biggest companies of that sort in the world. Listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the company develops medicines, vaccines and research many medical practices including cardiology, neurology and most important for this article, oncology.
With a lot of money invested in cancer treatments, nicotine supplements to help smokers quit and many other drugs which help disorders and diseases brought about by smoking tobacco, people have begun to wonder whether Pfizer had anything to do with Adam Padilla’s internet meme. With so much anti-vaping propaganda out there from tobacco lobbyists, health companies and stringent laws being placed on the size of vape products, it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that Pfizer were paying Padilla to spread anti-vaping propaganda to benefit their sales and public opinion.
Looking at Padilla’s background as a “disruptive social media personality,” it’s not surprising to find that he’s responsible for memes like this one:
This meme follows the same themes of kid’s toys which are highly inappropriate and Padilla has explicitly said that his My First Vape meme wasn’t explicitly anti-vape but was instead a critique on fake news. This is in the same way that his Fisher Price meme which surfaced last year was not anti-alcohol but anti corporation and anti-underage drinking.
So, in short, if there was any coercion from Pfizer for Padilla to make this meme it has not been made public and can be far more easily explained through motivations which aren’t explicitly anti-vape.