Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 800 - 818)



Audrey Wise

800  It is airport posters in Malaga, it is not newspapers. "Airport posters in popular holiday destinations, eg Malaga airport". That is the Costa del Sol.

  (Mr Mustoe) But the same rules apply. We do not change the copy. We keep the same thing there. The reason there is a high awareness of cigarette health issues in this country is because 20 per cent of all the advertising spend across all the companies is consistently behind that warning. I believe the industry is responsible for making it so high profile. I believe that all we are doing there is targeting a poster location as we would be if we bought a poster in a high street in the UK.

801  Part of this brief says "But CAP rules don't apply outside the UK".

  (Mr Mustoe) They do not, it is true, but if you look at the copy which runs—

802  A soft target.

  (Mr Mustoe) No. If you look at the copy which runs we make a judgement to make sure we do nothing that would be deemed to be wrong or breaking the rules. It is not relevant. A comment was made earlier by Dr Brand about the whole of the ASA. The ASA works differently for cigarettes than for any other category of advertisers as I am sure you are aware. Everything we normally do has to be vetted as part of our agency's working procedure; we send all our work to be vetted by the CAP committee when it is just a sketch outline idea before Imperial Tobacco ever see it.

803  You are trying to make smoking a socially acceptable business, are you not? That is part of your advertising.

  (Mr Mustoe) We are not trying to, it is to a very large extent.

804  Or confirm it or keep it going.

  (Mr Mustoe) It is out there, it is a mass market product. We simply advertise it to smokers for brand changing; a point which has been made.

805  The next brief in your submission, dated 6 June 1998, right at the bottom of this particular brief for Imperial Tobacco, `98 Brand Campaign, "CAP are getting stricter. They will not allow any illustrative style that is deemed to be appealing to children".

  (Mr Mustoe) Yes, that is true.

806  Inherent in that is that the concept of children was in people's minds when these things were drawn up.

  (Mr Mustoe) No, I think you have misunderstood the comments.

807  I do not think I have.

  (Mr Mustoe) It is that if you decide to use any form of illustration as opposed to photography, CAP have made it very difficult to use any of that, which was a tightening up of the code. That word "illustrative" refers to a particular type of art. Therefore if, in coming up with an idea, you decide as a creative person you wish to use that form of art, you will find that avenue is now closed to you so do not waste your time. That is what it means. It is not about targeting children at all. This brand is nowhere near in terms of targeting; it is a mass market brand, a much older profile.

808  Did you almost say to me, "This brand is nowhere near—

  (Mr Mustoe) Nowhere near the younger part of the market; it certainly would not be targeted at children.

809  That is what you seemed to be just about to say to me.

  (Mr Mustoe) No, I did not. I was explaining that the brand is an older brand, older than other adult brands.

810  CAP are getting stricter. Even on your own logic that means that some of the illustrations you might have used in the past before CAP stepped in, were the sort of thing that might have appealed to children. That is the logic implicit in this.

  (Mr Mustoe) This idea that CAP step in and how we do it is wrong. We have a code which is very strict, it is our code, we go through CAP to vet anything before it goes forward. There are many, many shades of grey about whether this image or that image is right or wrong. We have to keep abreast of exactly where CAP are because they are the body which we work with to make sure we do not in any way appeal to younger people or all the other things we are not meant to do. It is very important therefore when an account person is briefing a creative person that they make it very clear whether there have been any changes or any feel of any changes, otherwise what happens is that I have people sitting in rooms writing adverts which are a complete waste of time. Of course we brief them, but to suggest therefore there is some implication that before we were doing something which was terrible is erroneous and wrong.

811  Mr MacLennan, towards the end of your submission there is a contact sheet and it is a brainstorming session and has a number of headings and sub-headings. Who are these ideas meant to be aimed at? I shall just pick a few out. A free flight in space. Is that not aimed at the childish imagination?

  (Mr MacLennan) I talked about this earlier in terms of how these things operate in our business and this is a brainstorming session. There is a list of a whole series of things, some of which are completely ridiculous, most of which could never be done, come up with by people who do not work in the cigarette business and would not understand that you cannot do them. They are then crossed off and are never pursued. I should be happy to discuss anything we pursued, otherwise it is just a product of a group of people in a room coming up with ideas, some of whom do not understand the rules and regulations governing communication on tobacco.

812  Just a product of a fevered imagination.

  (Mr MacLennan) I did not say fevered. I said it was an imaginative bunch of people coming up with ideas who were not aware of the code. No, I did not say they were fevered. You seem to imply they are ill in some way.

813  One of the sub-headings is "Hedonism". Who is that aimed at? That is aimed at young people.

  (Mr MacLennan) It would be and that is why we did not do it.

814  "Giving Something Back—Sponsored parks in urban areas". Children use parks.

  (Mr MacLennan) Which is why we did not do it.

815  But why should that cross anybody's mind?

  (Mr MacLennan) I do not know.

816  Cool pirate radio station. Sponsor one of those. That is aimed at kids listening to pop music.

  (Mr MacLennan) You cannot do any of these things.

817  No, but why on earth do these things raise their heads?

  (Mr MacLennan) Because people are sitting round a room discussing what a product can do and most products would be allowed to target these people, do these things. We deal with many different companies in many different fields, almost all of which are not regulated to the extent that tobacco is. Therefore they would be used to coming up with these ideas for other brands, other products, other areas. That is why.

818  One last thing which defies belief, "Silk Cut to sponsor Elastoplast". That is disgraceful. Elastoplasts are used by kids. How do you come up with this stuff.

  (Mr MacLennan) I agree actually that it was a foolish suggestion which someone somewhere in the agency came up with sitting around in this room. I have explained to you why they would, but it does not see the light of day.

  Chairman: May I thank you for your cooperation in this very illuminating session. You have left us with a great deal to think about and the documents which you have forwarded to us, the Committee will, through its staff and advisers, analyse and it may be that at some point before the Committee gets chance to look at them further we will ask you one or two other points arising from what is in those documents. We do appreciate your cooperation with our inquiry today. Thank you very much.

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