Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 720 - 739)



720  Would you go out of your way particularly to ensure that there was no association of your marketing with the health risk of smoking?

  (Mr Bainsfair) You would go out of your way to avoid the rather obvious misjudgements of putting them opposite health pages.

721  Would you do that out of consideration for us, not to offend us rather than the damage it might do to your campaign?

  (Mr Bainsfair) No, you would do it because it is common sense to do it. If you are advertising the brand, it is common sense to avoid putting your advertisement opposite a page talking about health.


722  Mr Macleod are you in a position now to answer the first point raised by Mr Austin?

  (Mr Macleod) Yes; I am sorry for the delay. These are all to do with Hamlet, which is a product which is smoked by people, men particularly, of 40-plus. The Literary Review is a small circulation magazine which has a bad sex award. I think it is Auberon Waugh who publishes it. We do a long copy ad for Hamlet and rather racily we include the word "fuck" in that long copy. That relates to that point. The point about Oasis we are not clear about. We think this was a tactical ad that we were looking to do. The Hamlet campaign had a succession of what we call topical ads, taking advantage of topical situations. We think this may be something to do with the mention of Oasis but that particular ad was never presented to the client. Slaphead is a term for baldness and Hamlet ads frequently feature people who are bald. The Style magazine is a logical place for the delivery of men. Hamlet tends to be targeted, dare I say it, towards older men.

Mr Austin

723  If you were to use Oasis would you think that would fit in with the CAP rules?

  (Mr Macleod) I am not sure. I do not know what the context of this particular ad was. I doubt it. It is about the execution; all ads have to be pre-cleared so I guess if they did not it would not happen.

Mrs Gordon

724  I was particularly interested in the ban on advertising when that comes along. You are going to have to communicate your brief in other ways. I wanted to ask how important the pack livery is to the communication of brand imagery. In one of the documents from CDP it says, "Remember this campaign has its origins in a very simple truth, that smokers of B&H, when they put their pack on the pub table, will always have it noticed by their friends. It is their badge and all we are trying to do is celebrate it". Could I have comments from all of you on that?

  (Mr Macleod) The pack is by definition important, a competitive element. It is the way in which you differentiate yourself from the other brands. Benson & Hedges' pack is probably no different in that regard.

725  How important will it be for your marketing that that remains on display at the point of sale after the ban on advertising comes into effect?

  (Mr Bainsfair) The pack, livery as we call it, is really the clothes that the product wears. It helps the consumer or the smoker to distinguish between the different products on offer and to make an easy choice from one to another. It is important in that regard.

726  Do you intend to brand the shops as well, the tobacconists? For instance design of the floor tiles to echo the pack?

  (Mr MacLennan) In the case of a ban? Speaking for ourselves, if there is an advertising ban you are not allowed to advertise so we would not be doing that and it does not come under our particular remit.


727  Obviously the information you have kindly supplied has given us a fair idea of the way you are looking to get round this ban. In the evidence we have there is an internal CDP memorandum which says, "This is to confirm that we (B&H account team) have asked Noel to come up with some implicit branding options for the Jordan Team Formula 1 cars for the French Grand Prix. The reason being that all cigarette branding must be removed to comply with Government regulations". It talks here about ways round it. The memorandum is from Mandy. We are not quite sure who Mandy is and it is to David Greaves and Sam Jiggins. Then on the next page we have a memorandum from Simon North to Barry Jenner, again CDP, saying "We feel that if we can legally say the words `Special F1' then we could utilise the area behind the driver's head ... to attempt to get a little closer to more `overtly' implying the brand on the car. Do you think we could get this past the various legal bodies? If Rothmans can get away with `Racing' in the brand type face, I think we may have a case". Clearly we are concerned to look at the implications of the advertising ban. The reason we have got you here today is because obviously in our view you have a major role to play in the wider impact on health. What is your response to the point Eileen raised earlier on about the efforts you are making at this stage, which clearly appear to completely undermine the whole basis of what the Government are trying to achieve, what is being attempted across Europe.

  (Mr Macleod) May I pick that one up as it is CDP and poor old Mandy.

728  Yes, please do and please tell us who Mandy is.

  (Mr Macleod) That is a bit unfair. By definition being from Mandy identifies these as internal documents. Unless you need me to identify Mandy I will not. This is perfectly acceptable in terms of the way in which an agency would work within the accepted legal framework.

729  You are working hard to get round the legal framework.

  (Mr Macleod) I do not think it says that; "... if we can legally say" is very straightforward. If we legally cannot then we shall not. That is as simple as that. It is an internal document. It probably has the slight exuberance of an advertising agency in operation but that is what it is and it never happened because we were not able to do it.

Mrs Gordon

730  We have a document from the University of Strathclyde which talks about this indirect way of advertising. Hard research evidence shows that the indirect strategy works well with children. For example, when shown an advertisement for JPS Grand Prix holidays which did not mention cigarettes or carry a Government health warning, 91 per cent of 12 to 16-year-olds said it advertised cigarettes. This is what you are looking for, is it not? To be able to get the message across indirectly.

  (Mr MacLennan) That is absolutely not what we are looking for. What you seem to be implying is that we target children, which is 100 per cent not the case. I have worked with Gallaher for about 15 or 16 years and I have never sat in any meeting when we have discussed targeting non-smokers or people who are under age. You are completely wrong to come to that conclusion.

731  Even if you do not sit there and say you are going to appeal to 12 to 16-year-olds, the evidence is that the messages are getting through to that younger age group. They are attracted to it and they do identify, much more than adults in a way, the cigarette adverts.

  (Mr MacLennan) You could probably show evidence that they see the advertisements. It is common sense that they do. There are posters on the streets and they would see those posters. In terms of it encouraging anyone to smoke, there is equal as much evidence to show that it does not encourage people to smoke as there is that it does. It is neutral on that particular point.

732  Except that under-age smoking is increasing. More young people are smoking and that comes from somewhere.

  (Mr MacLennan) Interestingly, those figures were going down across the last ten years. It is only in the last two years, which coincides with this Government coming into power, that young smokers have actually increased.


733  That is a very interesting point. Please give us an explanation of what your thoughts are on the reasons for that.

  (Mr MacLennan) There is an obvious reason for it: the advertising spend has halved over those last two years. It used to be about £50 million and is now down to under £20 million I believe over the last two years. It has about halved. In those two years that is when more young people are smoking and it is a very clear reason why that is happening.

Mr Austin

734  So if we stopped advertising altogether smoking would go up enormously.

  (Mr MacLennan) It has in many countries.

Audrey Wise

735  This targeting of young adults. For instance we have a thing here which is your area, Mr Bainsfair. The client is Rothmans and the target "Primary: 18-24 males". I should just like to know what you think characterises an 18-year-old male, their aspirations and things that appeal to them which would not also appeal to 14 and 15-year-old males?

  (Mr Bainsfair) The reason we had that on one of our pieces of paper sent to you is because we handle Marlboro. It is a fact that Marlboro is a brand which is smoked by younger men; they tend to be more upscale.

736  Yes, I understand that but what I am asking is how you gear the advertising to be attractive at 18, which is your target beginning and not include things which would also appeal to 14 and 15-year-olds.

  (Mr Bainsfair) I shall try to answer your question, although in some ways the way you have asked it shows that you do not really fully understand the way we work.

737  I am sure I do not, or what motivates you.

  (Mr Bainsfair) I am sure you do not. We do not ask the creative teams to work to a specific age. The reason that the age band is given is to give them a direction of the kinds of people we know are going to be interested in the advertising. It is significant, I think, that it goes 18 to 24. It does not say 18; it says 18 to 24. There is a huge difference between the 24-year-old and the 15-year-old. The advertising we are trying to develop, and remember that we have to stick very much within the bounds of the code which prevents us anyway doing anything which might be seen to be deliberately attractive to children—not that we would want to—means that it is pretty unlikely that the kind of advertising we come up with would particularly appeal to a 15-year-old. Indeed I do not know whether you have seen any of our advertising, but I would ask you to point out to me if you could anything in it which would particularly appeal to a 15-year-old.

738  I am asking the questions and I am looking at the document which talks about how you will appeal to the 18 to 24 males. "We want to engage their aspirations and fantasies—I'd like to be there, do that, own that". "Marlboro core values: individuality and freedom and real and America". You are all—and the tobacco industry too—always unanimous that it is an unfortunate accident, as it were, if kids smoke but you are targeting adults. All I am asking, since you are expert communicators, is what steps you take to make your adverts attractive to young males 18 and up and to not have them attractive to males of 14 and 15.

  (Mr Bainsfair) What I have tried to explain is that there is a very detailed code to which we have to submit all our ideas to make sure that we are not straying into an area which could be seen to do the very thing you are suggesting we might accidentally do.

739  So you are supposed not to do it. What I am asking is how you carry out that remit, that is all.

  (Mr Bainsfair) I do not quite understand your question. We are aiming at 18 to 24-year-olds. We develop the advertising. If our client believes it is advertising which is likely to work, we then have to submit it to the ASA for them to check that we have not done anything which might be seen to be attractive to anybody younger than that group. It is a very, very clear procedure.

  Dr Brand: Is the ASA the same Advertising Standards Authority which we did not find very effective before?

  Audrey Wise: Yes; we know them quite well.

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