Xmas spirits ads to raise airtime costs

Spirits advertisers are likely to precipitate a sharp increase in TV airtime prices in the run-up to Christmas, say airtime buyers.

Brands Bacardi and Teachers are cancelling their traditional autumn poster campaigns, indicating plans to move their media spend to TV. Other brands, such as Martell and Bells, are also expected to announce a strategic shift in spend before Christmas.

Agencies say an influx of spirits advertisers’ money could trigger media inflation in November and December, when competition for key audiences peak. Spirits advertisers spent about 8m on outdoor in the last quarter of 1994.

One media director estimates media inflation for target groups could be pushed up by between five and ten per cent.

“There will be a bunfight for airtime,” says Mike Tunnicliffe, managing director of CIA Medianetwork. “That will impact on beer, finance and car advertisers who chase the same demographics.” Demand for late evening day parts and ABC1 male audiences is likely to grow as spirits advertisers move onto TV.

Meanwhile, Virgin Vodka will be the first high-strength spirit to advertise on UK TV since the voluntary ban was dropped on June 1. Advertising breaks on Channel 4 this week and will last for three days.

The ad, by Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, will be an “introductory campaign”. It will play on being the first and feature the brand message: “Triple-distilled for extra purity.”

Virgin Trading Company marketing director James Kydd says the ads tie in with the launch of Virgin Vodka, rolled out nationally in mid-May.

Virgin says it is reviewing whether to include TV advertising on a longer-term basis.

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