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Is Lady Gaga really going to be the next pitchwoman for Blu e-cigarettes?
That's what Jacob Fuller, CEO of Blu U.K., told British newspaper The Telegraph over the weekend. "In the U.S., Blu is working with Lady Gaga on a video with Blu in it," he said. "It's a global video that's going to allow us to piggyback on that brand exposure in the U.K."
The claim alarmed anti-smoking groups, who fear that an endorsement from a high-profile celebrity with enormous appeal among teens and adolescents would encourage young people to pick up "vaping," the term for inhaling nicotine-laced vapor from e-cigarettes. An e-cig habit could easily lead to teens trying and getting hooked on actual cigarettes, according to groups like Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Blu is now walking back Mr. Fuller's remarks, saying the company's top executive in London misspoke. "Jacob Fuller with blu UK ... did not provide accurate information, and blu eCigs does not have any relationship or associations with Lady Gaga," a spokeswoman for Blu said in an email to Ad Age.
Emails and phone calls to Blu's U.K. office were not returned by press time.
Blu is the largest e-cig brand in the U.S., with more than 40% of market share. Its marketing strategy focuses heavily on celebrity endorsements, with actor Stephen Dorff and TV personality Jenny McCarthy appearing in commercials for the product.
The brand is owned by Lorillard, the nation's third largest tobacco company, which bought Blu for $135 million in 2012.