The Government has sprung a surprise by awarding a pounds 3 million
campaign against teenage smoking to a communications company rather than
Brewer Blackler, a through-the-line consultancy, has defeated the Health
Education Authority in a two-way shoot-out for the Department of Health
business. The decision is a setback for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, which
handled the campaign for the HEA, although it will continue to run the
authority’s pounds 3 million drive on adult smoking until a review,
which is expected next year.
The shake-up marks a watershed in government advertising. It is the
first account the HEA has lost since being forced to compete for
government business with the private sector following a review of its
work last year.
The Health Department’s decision to opt for a private sector company is
also a blow for the Central Office of Information, the government
advertising body, which pitched for the teenage smoking campaign but was
eliminated (Campaign, 16 February).
Brewer Blackler, whose other clients include Quaker, Coca-Cola and Eden
Vale, will not sub-contract the advertising on teenage smoking to an
agency and will use its in-house expertise.
David Blackler, the company’s managing director, said advertising would
form ‘a substantial part’ of the campaign, but it is unclear how much of
the annual pounds 1 million budget for three years will go on ads.
Blackler said the work would also include activity in schools, a
roadshow and a telephone helpline.
In its winning pitch, Brewer Blackler rejected a negative approach using
shock tactics to turn teenagers against smoking. The company said the
offensive should ‘establish a lifestyle that non-smokers will buy into’,
which offered rewards and incentives to compete with the free gifts and
competitions in other promotions. Direct mail will play a part in the
The campaign, due to break in May, will involve private sector
sponsorship, with material displayed in record stores and clothes shops.
High-profile figures such as Richard Branson may endorse the no-smoking
Government sources said the choice of Brewer Blackler was ‘no
reflection’ on the HEA or its support for a ban on tobacco advertising,
which ministers oppose.
Charles Gallichan, the HEA’s head of advertising, commented: ‘Obviously,
it is a blow but nobody should underestimate our determination and
ability to succeed.’