NEWS: O&M called in for ‘mad cow’ rush job

Ogilvy and Mather has landed a pounds 250,000 emergency campaign for the Government aimed at allaying the public’s fears over the so-called mad cow disease.

Ogilvy and Mather has landed a pounds 250,000 emergency campaign for the

Government aimed at allaying the public’s fears over the so-called mad

cow disease.



The national newspaper blitz was drawn up in great secrecy to coincide

with new scientific advice out this week suggesting there was a bigger

chance of a link between the disease and its human equivalent than

previously thought.



O&M was called in for talks at the Department of Health on Tuesday for a

campaign due to break this Thursday.



It is being run jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and

Fisheries.



Health officials turned to O&M because there was no time to organise a

pitch. It is a standby agency for the Central Office of Information and

worked on the Department of Health’s anti-drugs campaign until last

year. ‘We wanted an agency we knew,’ one Whitehall source said.



The three-day press push was designed to counter fears about the safety

of British beef after the Health Secretary, Stephen Dorrell, revealed

the new scientific advice in a Commons statement.



The ads, still being drafted as Campaign went to press, were expected to

contain no creative work, but to repeat a statement by Sir Kenneth

Calman, the Government’s chief medical officer, reassuring the public

about the safety of beef products. They will also promote a new

recorded-message service which the public can telephone to find out the

latest information.



Despite the greater-than-expected risk, the Government insists there is

no proven link between Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy and the related

condition, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which occurs in humans, but

affects only one person in a million worldwide.



The campaign is aimed at preventing another slump in the sales of

British beef, which fell by 15 per cent last December after some experts

expressed doubts over whether the product was safe.