The Government is to review its pounds 2.5 million-a-year Aids campaign
in the new year - a move that could force BMP DDB Needham into a fight
for the account.
The rethink will follow the Department of Health’s decision on whether
the Health Education Authority should continue to handle the public
The department is to make its decision by next April, when
responsibility for the Aids work comes up for review following a
Government shake-up of the HEA.
BMP is resigned to a review whether or not the HEA retains the
advertising contract. The rethink was expected because BMP has held the
account since 1988, when it succeeded TBWA - the creator of the much-
criticised ‘gravestones’ television ad.
The Government will consider whether the business should be broken up
and parts of it devolved to organisations such as the Terrence Higgins
A Department of Health report last month concluded: ‘Greater emphasis
will in future be placed on developing national and local health
promotion directed at vulnerable groups.’
However, Whitehall officials admit there could be disadvantages in
handing over parts of the campaign to outside organisations. The
sensitive nature of the subject means that ads will need to be approved
by ministers, which is bound to provoke disputes with organisations that
want hard-hitting warnings. Secondly, involving charities specialising
in HIV work may run the risk of branding the disease a ‘gay plague’,
with no relevance to the general population.
In line with the targeted approach sought by the Government, there have
been no TV ads since 1992 and the ad budget has been cut from pounds 4
million to pounds 2.5 million a year.