NEWS: M&C Saatchi nets pounds 10m B&H launch

Gallaher has entrusted M&C Saatchi with one of its biggest cigarette brand launches in three decades, backed by a reported advertising budget of pounds 10 million.

Gallaher has entrusted M&C Saatchi with one of its biggest cigarette

brand launches in three decades, backed by a reported advertising budget

of pounds 10 million.

The tobacco giant has been working secretly with the agency for the past

nine months on a creative strategy for the mass-market brand.

The king-sized cigarettes - to be called Sovereign from Benson and

Hedges - are aimed at the fast-growing cheap sector of the market,

currently dominated by Lambert and Butler’s Imperials.

The CDP Media Company, which handles Gallaher’s centralised media

buying, will work alongside M&C Saatchi on the mid-March launch which

kicks off with a national 48-sheet poster campaign backed by press and

magazine advertising.

Sovereign may be the first of a flurry of launches as tobacco

manufacturers make the most of what could be the limited time available

before a possible incoming Labour government orders a complete ban on

cigarette advertising.

For Gallaher, the new cigarette will be its most significant launch

since Benson and Hedges Superkings three years ago. It is being put on a

par with the debuts of Silk Cut and Benson and Hedges Gold in the early


The task will virtually double Gallaher’s billings at M&C Saatchi and is

the biggest slice of new business the agency has captured since the

arrival of the British Airways global account almost a year ago.

Charles Saatchi, whose links with Gallaher go back to 1983 and who

produced the first of the award-winning series of ads for Silk Cut, has

been closely involved in the creative work for Sovereign and has given

his approval to the launch advertising.

Gallaher was one of the first clients to declare its allegiance to

Maurice Saatchi and pull its business out of Saatchi and Saatchi as soon

as the ousted Saatchi group chairman won legal clearance to set up a

rival shop last year.

Gallaher’s personal loyalties to Charles were always expected to

outweigh other considerations. The company also has close links with

Jeremy Sinclair, one of M&C Saatchi’s founding partners, and Moray

MacLennan, the agency’s joint chief executive, who has worked on

Gallaher business for 13 years.

‘This is a rare opportunity for us,’ MacLennan said. ‘Gallaher was one

of our founding clients and we’re thrilled to be increasing our

portfolio with it.’

Gallaher is determined to be a major player in the cheap sector, where

it currently has no presence.


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