Gray has been appointed group marketing director of British American Tobacco (BAT) owner of brands including Dunhill, Kent, Lucky Strike, Pall Mall and Benson & Hedges.
He moves up from his current role as director of the EEMEA region and replaces Jean-Marc Levy who will take on a “special projects” role until his departure at the end of 2014.
Gray has been with BAT for 27 years in several senior roles and on the group’s management board for seven years.
CEO Nicandro Durante says of Gray: “I am pleased about Andrew’s appointment as group marketing director, where he will bring his keen commercial acumen and significant Group-wide experience to bear.”
In the UK and many other countries, the advertising of tobacco brands in any form has been banned since 2004, while their sponsorship of events is also prohibited. Packs have to carry health warnings, which are often as explicit as ‘smoking kills’.
The final marketing opportunity for cigarette brands left to BAT and others in the UK could also soon be removed if Government proposals to ban branded packaging are carried.
Gray will also take on responsibility for marketing electronic cigarette brand Vype. The brand has enjoyed huge marketing investment this year and was recently the subject of BAT’s first UK TV ad campaign for 20 years.
E-cigarettes and the development of other inhaled nicotine devices are central to BAT’s plans both as a revenue stream and as part of its “reducing harm” corporate campaign.
E-Cigarette advertising, however, is also coming under scrutiny. Last week, the World Health Organisation called on Governments to restrict advertising, while the UK ad watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority has proposed specific rules that would prohibit e-cigarette ads from appealing to under 18s or showing anyone under the age of 25 using an e-cigarette.