Buyers battle to reschedule ad slots after Diana tragedy

By CLAIRE BEALE,, Friday, 05 September 1997 12:00AM

The tragic news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, led to the wholesale disruption of millions of pounds worth of advertising schedules this week.

The tragic news of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, led to

the wholesale disruption of millions of pounds worth of advertising

schedules this week.

Advertising minutage lost to make way for coverage of the event will

have to be accommodated by extending ad breaks on commercial television

in the coming weeks.

Most commercial channels pulled advertising airtime on Sunday when the

news of the Princess’s death was announced, and ad spots were withdrawn

from subsequent news bulletins and tribute programmes.

There were no ad breaks on ITV until 7.30pm on Sunday and no ads ran

during the later ITN tribute. News at Ten has been running without a

centre ad break this week.

A number of programmes have been withdrawn. A planned screening of

Police Academy 6, on Monday, for example, was replaced with Inspector


Ads in a number of product categories were ruled out by ITV, including

cars, insurance, healthcare, photography, newspapers and alcohol.

Ads such as the Nissan Almera (which features a car chase) and Green

Flag (which includes an accident scene) were among those considered


Advertisers in less contentious sectors, such as fmcg, were encouraged

to upweight their ITV campaigns and were offered the sort of prime

peaktime spots usually reserved for blue-chip clients.

Jerry Hill, the chief executive of the ITV sales house, TSMS, said: ’All

commercial breaks have been pre-vetted given the situation.’

Sales houses are now working out how best to reclaim lost advertising

minutage and ITV is likely to change the network break patterns to

accommodate them.

However, there will probably be problems with conflicting ads.

Currently, only one car ad per break is permitted, but it will be hard

to maintain this policy given the number of car ads pulled this


Channel 4 also followed a policy of pulling ads during coverage of the


Andy Barnes, the director of sales and marketing at Channel 4, said ads

will not run during Saturday daytime when the Princess’s funeral takes


Barnes added: ’We didn’t want to alienate anyone. If in doubt, we’ve

pulled it, and advertisers have backed us.’

On Channel 5, ads for alcohol, cars and insurance were pulled and the

channel also changed its plans to screen the Big Chill on Thursday.

Sky withdrew all commercial airtime and programme promotions last Sunday

and will run no ads on any channel during Saturday daytime.

However, Sky has come under fire from one agency for being


The satellite broadcaster ordered the withdrawal of Leagas Shafron

Davis’s work for Sanyo Digi-Cam cameras until after the funeral. The ads

feature elderly couples demonstrating the ease of use of the


Mike Davis, the managing director of the agency, said: ’I’m not

complaining about having a media schedule messed up. But, given that Sky

is continuing to show entertainment, pulling advertising which has

warmth and humour just because it’s for a camera is to make too tenuous

a link.’

Radio stations have followed similar strategies to TV channels this

week, pulling ads and promotions.

Newspaper sales shot up as news of the tragedy continued to break,

although publishers were cautious about disclosing sales figures. The

Sun is understood to have sold more than one million extra copies on

Monday and the Sun, the Times and the Guardian are each thought to have

increased their print run by around 50 per cent.

John Teal, the head of agency and client sales at the Daily Mail, said:

’We are trying to be sympathetic, but are keen to keep in as much

revenue as possible. Some advertisers are trying to pull out of Thursday

and Friday editions on the premise that people won’t be going shopping

on Saturday, so why advertise?’

The weekly celebrity magazine, Hello!, was forced to pulp its issue

planned for this week, but has increased its print run to 1.05 million

for a special tribute issue.

OK! magazine has scrapped the planned launch of an ad campaign, but it

is honouring deals with media owners and is running ads for a special

tribute edition to be published in tandem with the regular edition.

Northern & Shell, the publisher of OK!, is to donate all profits from

the special issue to Diana’s six favourite charities.

This article was first published on


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