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