Rothmans takes axe to marketers

Rothmans UK is to cull up to a third of its marketing and sales team as part of a wider operational restructure at the company.

Parent company British American Tobacco (BAT) has said that about 90 jobs will go at Rothmans’ 270-strong Aylesbury office, which houses the marketing, sales and distribution staff for its Dunhill, Royals, Rothmans and 555 cigarette brands.

It is not known whether Rothmans marketing director Ralph Wittenberg will be among the redundancies, or to what extent his team will be affected.

The redundancies are a symptom of tough times for tobacco advertising, which has been severely curtailed by government restrictions. Most advertising for tobacco brands was banned at the end of 1999, although certain worldwide sports events have an exemption, which includes tobacco sponsorship until 2006.The most recent creative work for Rothmans was handled by BAT roster agency Ogilvy & Mather, although it is BAT policy to shift brands between O&M and its two other roster agencies, Bates and Grey Worldwide.

A BAT spokeswoman says the cuts are also related to BAT’s loss to Imperial Tobacco of the distribution rights for Marlboro cigarettes last year (MW August 15, 2002).

The loss was greeted with disbelief at the time – the deal more than halved BAT’s UK market share to six per cent. Industry sources say the move resulted in a loss of almost two-thirds of the company’s UK income.

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