Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 760 - 779)



760  You would not be happy about advertising directed to attracting women.

  (Mr MacLennan) Young women; no.

Mr Gunnell

761  The piece which talks about the 15-year-old group makes it clear that it is talking about the 15 to 24 so that includes very young teenagers. If research has been done on those who smoke and that research is used positively in these documents to talk about how to attract them or how they are attracted to the brand, I therefore simply take this as a piece of evidence that those who work for you are concerned with young people smoking and are not concerned with young people stopping smoking, they are concerned with them continuing.

  (Mr MacLennan) You have completely missed the point about the research, where we got it from and what we use it for.

Dr Stoate

762  You spend a lot of time telling us that you are very careful to stick within the regulations and that is very laudable. You probably think we are a pretty cynical committee but I think we come a fairly poor second in cynicism. I refer back to the CDP memorandum from Simon North to Barry Jenner and I quote from it. "We wonder if you could slightly corrupt the Jordan Logo to include a large `ampersand?' ... Our reasoning for suggesting it, is that the ampersand is not actually part of your logo, though if it were to appear, I believe people would recognise it as being so". Is that not exactly the point we are getting at, that it merely is a device for getting round the putative ban on advertising on Formula 1?

  (Mr Macleod) No.

  Dr Stoate: Can it be anything else? It actually says, "I believe people would recognise it as being so". Surely it is overtly saying that is what you are aiming to do. You want people to recognise it even though it is not part of the logo and therefore must be getting round the ban. What else could it mean?

  Mr Gunnell: The words in brackets say, "(I think that this would be sailing very close to the wind)".

Dr Stoate

763  The point being, how can it be any other than an attempt to get round the ban because you have actually said, "... if it were to appear, I believe people would recognise it as being so".

  (Mr Macleod) But it has not happened.

764  It may not have happened but it in an internal memorandum wondering whether you could slightly corrupt the Jordan logo. It is a request to do so. Therefore surely even if it has not actually happened it is an attempt to get round the regulations.

  (Mr Macleod) I do not think so.

765  What is it for?

  (Mr Macleod) It is exploring how we might promote our particular product. We are not responsible for Jordan's logo and so on. I am certainly not passing the buck here but it was something we hypothesised you might be able to do.

766  Why would you want to increase the size of the ampersand? What would be the point of increasing the size of the ampersand in the Jordan logo otherwise?

  (Mr Macleod) To confirm our association with Jordan.

767  Even though it says it would be sailing close to the wind and that people would recognise it as an attempt.

  (Mr Macleod) An idea is hypothesised, if it would be accepted it is accepted, if it is not, it is not. It is as simple as that. Something is put up, it is accepted or rejected.

768  The fact still remains that it is nothing more than an attempt to get round the regulations, even though you have said in evidence that your intention is to stick as closely as possible to the rules.

  (Mr Macleod) I am actually not sure what the rules are in relation to Formula 1. We are not responsible for it now. In that specific regard I do not know whether it would be sailing close to the rules or not.

Dr Brand

769  How long has it been that you have been so sophisticated about targeting the audience you want to convert to your own particular brand, approximately, in time?

  (Mr MacLennan) What do you mean by "so sophisticated"?
  (Mr Bainsfair) Do you mean as an industry?

770  As an industry, yes.

  (Mr Bainsfair) Generally or in this instance.

771  We have been talking about targeting young males, young females, students, the more confirmed steady smokers. You clearly have this very tight targeting strategy, not just when you are advertising and launching a new product. I am just interested to know how long this has been going on with quite such skill and sophistication.

  (Mr Bainsfair) For our part, we have handled Marlboro since 1992 and it has been there very much ever since we have worked with them. If you ask others, I think you will find it pre-dates that by some considerable time.

772  How long do you reckon then?

  (Mr Bainsfair) In advertising sophisticated targeting goes back to the 1960s.

773  Would you still maintain that advertising does not encourage smoking?

  (Mr Bainsfair) Yes, I would.

774  Very interesting. There is an interesting, well thumbed and presumably well used document which was submitted on the marketing of hand rolling tobacco, Amber Leaf. It came from the Gallaher people. Are you familiar with that?

  (Mr MacLennan) No; not particularly. I am sure I saw it at some point.

775  It is very interesting because it clearly tries to increase the market brand of Amber Leaf versus other hand rolling tobaccos, neither of which is available in this country or regularly available in this country through tobacconists and the main share is obtained through smuggling and bootlegging. The document itself actually makes a play on how the bootlegging part of the tobacco resale industry can be targeted to get them on side so they sell more of your product. Do you have any concerns about that?

  (Mr MacLennan) Everyone is concerned about smuggling because it is the chief reason for more young smoking in the last two years. Everyone should be concerned about that, just as a single cause of younger people smoking. It is that tobacco is going through in a non-controlled distribution to people who do not care to whom they sell it. Yes, one has to be concerned about that, to answer your question. In this particular instance, hand rolling tobacco is a particular issue. As I understand it anyway, the price for instance in Belgium is about 20 per cent of what it is here in the UK, which is a nice healthy smuggling margin in my books. It is smuggled and I believe volume has gone up accordingly because of the distribution. Yes, it is clearly an issue.

776  Absolutely and you have recognised that because in your briefing document it says "A Co-ordinate Approach. Trial through bootleggers" and "Key Issues UK Distribution. Adoption by bootleggers". Obviously the bootleggers were not flogging the Amber Leaf but something else. "Amber Leaf. Gaining share of Duty Paid. Not chosen by bootleggers". Presumably there is an assumption you have got to change that. This is nothing to do any more with the CAP rules, this is to do with advertising. You are working through illegal channels to promote a product.

  (Mr MacLennan) Advertising does not work through illegal channels. That document suggests that what is being forced to happen in certain instances, because of the lack of control of smuggling in this country at the moment, which has got so dramatically worse, is that the tobacco companies, yes, are targeting legal distribution methods, some of which are on the continent. They sell it through legal distribution. Because of the lack of enforcement here in terms of smuggling, a lot of that finds its way back into this country through illegal distribution.

777  So it is perfectly acceptable to you if you target the legal sales on the continent to bootleggers so that you can increase your market share of bootlegged, hand rolling tobacco.

  (Mr MacLennan) I do not distribute tobacco, so it is not really a question for me. I am not in charge of distribution for the tobacco industry; we do advertisements. However, I think that really the onus is on the Government not the tobacco manufacturers. They are allowed to distribute their products through legal distribution means and if you want to look for someone to blame, you should look elsewhere.

778  May I have a comment from the other gentlemen at the table? Do you think it is appropriate to try to increase your market share on illegally distributed products?

  (Mr Macleod) No.
  (Mr Mustoe) I have some sympathy with the point of view about tobacco coming in that way because one of the brands we work on is Golden Virginia, which is a market leader in hand rolling tobacco. By far the majority of sales in the UK are now sourced, I understand, abroad, which makes any kind of communication with your audience slightly strange because it is all coming in through illegal channels. I do think that is a recent phenomena. I do think that is one of the reasons why tobacco consumption patterns have changed in the last two years.

779  Have you been asked by Imperial to produce a strategy which allows you to maintain the share of consumption coming in in an illegal way, that is targeting the distributors and the people who sell the stuff on the continent?

  (Mr Mustoe) No, we have not been asked.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 6 March 2000