If you’re active in vaping circles on social media, you may have come across the “My First Vape” meme that’s being shared. While it may have extracted a brief chuckle, it’s really no laughing matter. But it’s got us wondering whether it’s a harmless joke or whether there are more sinister forces at play.
The meme originated on either Twitter or Facebook and gained plenty of traction in its first 24 hours online. After a couple of days, the original version of the meme had accumulated 150 retweets, maybe not as bad as first feared. But still, to even have the association of babies and vaping is worrying, and is an extreme take on the fears many have with children and vaping.
Who created the meme?
Adam Padilla, who calls himself a “part disruptive social media personality” on his website, is the architect of the meme and the New Yorker who co-founded BrandFire isn’t short on confidence. According to Padilla, his work is “embedded in today’s popular culture.” But far from being a simple rabble-rouser, BrandFire’s connections suggest Padilla has an interest in creating specific narratives.
It turns out that one of BrandFire’s clients is none other than big pharmaceutical company Pfizer. They detest vaping and haven’t been shy to say so. Why? Because it’s a direct and superior competitor to Chantix, their own smoking cessation medication.
Therefore, it’s only right to ask whether Pfizer is the driving force behind this meme – and maybe future memes. It wouldn’t be above them, and these largely anonymous dirty tricks are often more effective than simple attacks.
But then again, we could just be getting paranoid here, as Padilla has form for producing fake advertisements to troll social media. Just last year he came up with a bizarre Fisher-Price Happy Hour Playset ad and the internet loved it.
Although Padilla’s brash personality doesn’t let him admit that his fake ads are just there for the jokes. No, he sees them as a way to draw awareness to the growing fake news problem. He argues that as long as you keep elements of realism, it’s easy to fool the masses and take a story viral.
On that matter he could well be right. So providing this incident is a one-off, we’ll put the “My First Vape” meme down as a barely amusing, lazy cheap shot!