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
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
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.