Shops vie for £15m smoking brief

Agencies are lining up to pitch for a £15 million pot of cash which has been earmarked by the Department of Health for a hard-hitting, anti-smoking blitz this spring.

The cash is being split between two of the UK's leading charities, Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Each charity is obliged to put the project out to tender but they are at different stages of the process. The BHF is currently holding discussions with the DoH about its advertising plans and has already approached a number of agencies to pitch for the high-profile brief.

The incumbent on its main account is Partners BDDH, which has already been invited to join the final line-up.

A BHF spokesman said: "We are in discussions about the kind of campaign we would like to conduct and we'll get an indication later of what form it will take."

Neil Christie, the head of new business at Partners, said: "This is an additional assignment for us and we're delighted to be participating."

Meanwhile, Cancer Research UK does not have an agency shortlist; sources suggested this is because it has not yet agreed on its strategy with the DoH.

The new anti-smoking campaigns are likely to break in the next two months and will be part of a wider initiative being planned by the DoH to tackle tobacco use, one of the nation's biggest killers.

The DoH revealed details of the £15 million anti-smoking grant back in November. The announcement coincided with details of the timetable of the sweeping Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002.

By next month, in-pack promotion schemes and direct marketing contracts will end.


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