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A few years ago, we began seeing a spike in unscheduled fire alarms at my school. The culprit? Boys vaping in the bathrooms during class. And the leading vape product among teens? Juul.
Juul was a phenomenon. It burned bright and it died young. Its story is instructive. And packs a few surprises. At its heart, it's a story of when moving fast and breaking things, the celebrated Silicon Valley ethos, goes sideways.
This is a great lesson in marketing literacy. It also involves engineering, venture capitalism, and public health.
NOTE: This program is rated TV-MA (MPAA equivalent: R). Profanity is not bleeped. Instructors will want to pre-screen the episode to assess propriety for their students.
In this docuseries, a scrappy electronic cigarette startup becomes a multibillion-dollar company until an epidemic causes its success to go up in smoke.
1. THE SPARK
Two Stanford graduates set out to disrupt the tobacco industry by creating a sleek new product for adult smokers but run into a series of struggles.
2. FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Upon launch, Juul rolls out an edgy campaign targeting youth culture until the popular ads come under criticism and spur new regulations from the FDA.
3. WHERE’S MY JUUL?
Viral social media videos and word-of-mouth send Juul and its flavor pods flying off shelves- and into the hands of kids, causing nationwide outrage.
4. OVERNIGHT BILLIONAIRES
A landmark deal makes billionaires of Juul's founders but leaves other employees torn. A health crisis linked to vaping jeopardizes the company's future.