Blip's Branding Does the Impossible and Makes Quitting Nicotine Cool
by Rudy Sanchez on 09/18/2023 | 4 Minute Read
Ask young folks what they think about cigarettes, and they’ll likely tell you how gross smoking is.
That’s not to say the kids aren’t getting a nicotine buzz anymore; instead, they’ve primarily replaced tobacco with vaporizers.
Despite what vape brands will tell you, the ability to chief on fruity and dessert-like plumes of vapor infused with nicotine has undoubtedly made it easier for youngsters to get hooked. According to the FDA, over 3 million middle and high schoolers (that's 11.3% of them) reported using a tobacco product. Electronic cigarettes beat out conventional cigs 9.4% versus 1.6% for commonly used products. While vaping is a different experience than a trip to where the flavor is, getting that monkey off the back is just as challenging, and the same cessation products, like nicotine gum, can help quit vaping.
Nicotine-infused gums like Nicorette have been one of several over-the-counter options to help people kick the habit, otherwise known as Nicotine Replacement Therapy or NRT, and they've been widely available for decades. Regardless, this new generation of vapers looking to put down their e-cigs doesn’t seem aware of NRT gums and lozenges as something to help them quit.
Seeing an opportunity to introduce nicotine gum to millennials and Gen Z vapers wanting help quitting, Brian Bordainick and Julie Schott created Blip alongside Josephine Lee (Princess Gollum) as creative director and Alyson Lord as president (which makes for four co-founders in total).
Bordainick and Schott bring their experience from brands Plus, Starface, Julie, and Futurewise to Blip, hoping to make NRT gum and lozenges something a little more hip, just as they did for acne patches, contraception, and slugging moisturizers. But to do that, it needed to look the part.
“Consuming nicotine got a major rebrand over the last decade, and so should the support tools that help you get off it,” says Lee. “Unfortunately, smoking cessation products have remained largely unchanged since their inception, and traditional options lack human connection. Blip is rejuvenating this stagnant category to fill that void in meeting people where they are in their quitting journey.”
Lord and Lee both have struggled with quitting nicotine in the past. In fact, Lee inspired the idea of Blip, suggesting it to co-founder Schott while modeling for a Starface photoshoot.
Running a similar play to Starface and Julie, Blip takes a mature OTC product, in this case, NRT products, and rebrands them for a new generation of consumers. Blip is a departure from the staid branding of nicotine gum with a vintage-heavy, 80s arcade-inspired design. Instead of looking like medication meant to treat a disease, Blip is colorful and fun, embracing quitting as a positive. Nor is it a harsh lecture or tinged with shame for taking up a nasty addiction; instead, it celebrates dropping the nicotine habit while creating a support network via its community on the Geneva app.
“I wanted the branding to feel like nostalgia in the future, injected with elements you wouldn’t normally see in this category—like neon colors and starburst shapes—while still keeping it medicinal and tactical,” Josephine says. “The packaging has a very modern look which feels representative of the new wave of quitting Blip is creating.”
“Our ultimate goal was to bring excitement to the smoking cessation space by being different,” Lee adds. “We believe the more our design can get eyes drawn to the shelf, the more it will help us reach those who have been wanting to quit, have been putting it off, or those who know that they’re not ready yet but won’t forget where to find us when they are. We did this by being bold with bright colors, intriguing graphics, and 3D elements (the kind you remember seeing in your science textbooks), giving retro-futurism a new meaning through a different vessel: Blip.”
NRT gum might have originated five decades ago, but Blip’s marketing feels like something new, and it taps into social media and engagement with an edgy brand character led by Princess Gollum, which is also a bit subversive. Blip’s brand is often satirical, laced with memes and a dash of double entendres. Using audible blip censors on videos to suggest their medical expert said something naughty, or phrases like “Blip gets you off,” the marketing is a departure from typical NRT marketing, which often presents weakness as needing help with quitting. Instead, Blip encourages nicotine users to stop with mohawks and a hefty dash of attitude. On TikTok, Blip already has 45.6 thousand followers and 3 million likes since launching in late August.
Curiously enough, Blip hasn’t launched solely as a DTC brand, and it's already available at retailer CVS. Considering that one of the brand’s taglines is “Die Another Way,” landing on an established, national retailer like CVS is even more impressive. Part of Blip’s attraction to retailers could be a desire to stock NRT products with packaging and branding that appeals to the millions of young nicotine addicts.
For those who have quit nicotine or been close to someone who has, finally breaking that habit can be especially difficult. Blip’s approach to NRT gums and lozenges could be the tool that gets many younger addicts to quit smoking or vaping. As tricky as that can be, any help, including hip and edgy branding, is a pretty good thing.