Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Saturday, Jun 04, 2005
Industry & Economy
Marketing - Advertising
Hatchet to come down on indirect tobacco advertising
P.T. Jyothi Datta
Mumbai , June 3
IT may not be long before the hatchet comes down on promotions such as the Red and White Bravery Awards or Wills Lifestyle advertisements. The Centre has finally struck the nail on the head of indirect or surrogate advertising of tobacco products.
Spelling out in no uncertain terms what it means by indirect advertising, the Union Health Ministry has said that the existing ban on tobacco advertisements will include a ban on advertisement of non-tobacco products bearing the same brand name of tobacco products.
Fine-tuning the definition using the Norwegian-experience, promotions will not be allowed to use a particular colour or layout associated with a tobacco-product.
Promotions will also not be allowed to show tobacco products or smoking situations while advertising other goods or services, a Health Ministry official said.
Explaining how the directive works, the official said, that a non-tobacco product sharing the name of a tobacco brand will not be allowed to advertise, even if the volume of business of the non-tobacco product legitimises its existence. So a Red and White Bravery Award or a Wills Lifestyle promotion will have to go, he affirmed.
The ITC Chairman, Mr Y.C. Deveshwar, was unwilling to comment on the issue.
Further, the official said, advertisements will not be allowed to bear four red squares, for instance, which is recognised with the cigarette brand Four Square. Also, a promotion for a soft-drink for instance, will not be allowed to show smoking or cigarettes in the same visual.
This significant development comes even as the entertainment industry huffs and puffs over the recent directive disallowing smoking in films and the electronic media.
Welcoming the Government's effort at defining indirect advertising, Ms Shoba John, Programme Director (India) with Path Canada, said that the notification only prohibits the advertising of non-tobacco products that share a tobacco brandname.
"The producer of such a product clearly has the choice to continue to sell his product and even advertise, albeit with a different name," she said.
There is a precedent prohibiting brand-stretching between consumer products and infant food and infant milk substitutes, she points out.
"It is a grey-area. Whether or not surrogate advertising should be allowed has been constantly debated in the industry. There is no one solution. I myself have not come to a conclusion," says ad-man Mr Prasoon Joshi, Regional Creative Director of McCann Erickson.
Film guild plea to Ministry
THE Film and Television Producers Guild of India has written to the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Jaipal Reddy, asking him to intervene with the Health Ministry and withdraw the recent directive disallowing showing smoking in the electronic media.
According to the Guild, the Censor Board for Film Certification (CBFC) has laid down guidelines that are "sufficient to tackle this issue".
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