MPs accuse shops of ignoring tobacco ban

MPs have accused advertising agencies of ignoring the curbs on tobacco promotion and of drawing up plans to get round the ban proposed by the Government.

MPs have accused advertising agencies of ignoring the curbs on

tobacco promotion and of drawing up plans to get round the ban proposed

by the Government.



The attack came after senior executives from four shops with tobacco

accounts were grilled for 75 minutes by the all-party Commons Health

Select Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the health risks

of smoking.



MPs said they were alarmed by internal memos, strategy documents and

creative briefs handed over to the inquiry in an 80-page dossier.



The four executives quizzed were Moray MacLennan, joint chief executive

of M&C Saatchi; Chris McLeod, chief executive of CDP; Nick Mustoe, chief

executive of Mustoe Merriman Herring Levy; and Paul Bainsfair, chairman

of TBWA GGT Simons Palmer.



They played down the internal reports, saying many of the ideas in them

were never acted on because they would have breached Committee of

Advertising Practice code.



David Hinchliffe, Labour chairman of the committee, said the evidence in

the documents ’appears to completely undermine what the Government is

trying to achieve’.



The dossier revealed an M&C document that proposed a ’student cigarette’

and described 18- to 24-year-olds as a ’key target and a problem area

for Gallaher’. The agency also said that there was scope for a

male-targeted brand, perhaps co-branded with Loaded.



The committee raised questions about a TBWA document that said: ’The

Marlboro family’s strong and appealing credentials remain for young

people.’



A Mustoe Merriman report revealed that Imperial targeted British

holiday-makers by buying full-page ads in the Spanish editions of Fleet

Street tabloids. ’Because we’re advertising outside the UK, we don’t

have to worry about CAP approval,’ it said.



MPs were also worried by an M&C Saatchi document for Gallaher which

suggested one route to head off the proposed ban was to undermine Tessa

Jowell, the former health minister. Its proposal was to ’position her as

the Minister of Bans, undemocratic and rash decisions’.



MacLennan insisted the report was the result of a ’brainstorming

session’ by junior staff members and that none of the ideas had been

acted upon.



He added that some of the ideas were ’stupid’.



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).