Tobacco ban to hit 75m billings

The proposed ban on tobacco advertising will inflict severe damage on agencies, with up to 75m being wiped off ad billings.

Walsh Trott Chick Smith, for instance, will lose up to two-thirds of its billings, according to AC Nielsen MEAL figures.

WTCS will lose billings worth 2.4m last year, for the brand Rothmans Royals King Size, out of total yearly billings of 3.5m to December 1996. Amanda Walsh, managing director of WTCS, was unavailable for comment.

CDP will lose at least 10.8m of its 72.8m billings, BST-BDDP will lose 6.3m of its 54.7m billings, and Impact FCA! will lose nearly a third of its billings (4.7m of its 15.4m annual total).

These agencies will be the hardest hit when the ban bites, although bigger agencies, including M&C Saatchi, Lowe Howard-Spink and Grey Advertising will also lose significant pieces of business.

The real picture is likely to be worse than the one represented by these figures, which do not include spend on posters – estimated at 21m to 22m.

The Government’s plans to ban tobacco advertising – which now look likely to extend to sports sponsorship – are not expected to become law until the end of 1998. A White Paper on the ban is expected to be published this summer following a wide-ranging seminar to discuss the scope of the new restrictions.

Agencies must wait to see if the Government will outlaw all forms of marketing communication, or if there will be scope for work in direct marketing or above-the-line ads for non-tobacco brand extensions.

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