Tobacco ads go out with bang in U.K.

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[london] The U.K. banned tobacco advertising from Feb. 14, ending some of Britain's best-loved and longest-running ad campaigns after a final burst of creativity from Gallaher, marketer of Silk Cut cigarettes and Hamlet cigars. Last week M&C Saatchi, London, and Silk Cut played on its heritage of 100 print ads, all featuring slashed purple silk in depictions of everything from a cheese grater to the shower curtain scene from the movie "Psycho." Silk Cut's swan song, on U.K. poster sites, is a magnificent fat lady, clad in purple silk with a split seam in the side of the dress, singing. On Feb. 13, a large woman in slit purple silk went around London singing loudly to drive home the message that the fat lady had, indeed, sung on cigarette advertising. The ban ends an estimated $35 million a year expenditure in magazine, newspaper, outdoor and Internet tobacco advertising. Starting in May, unsolicited direct mail, coupons and free samples will be banned and promotion will be allowed only at point-of-sale. For Hamlet cigars, Gallaher marked 40 years of advertising by CDP Travissully, London, with a temporary Web site of the brand's best TV, cinema and radio ads. Decades of ads created the "Hamlet Moment," in which something goes terribly wrong for a regular guy, who finds solace by lighting up a Hamlet. The tagline was always "Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet." Until midnight on Feb. 13, surfers could download the ads to view or e-mail them to a friend. To help boost the viral campaign for the U.K.'s best selling cigar, registered visitors who sent a spot to a friend were entered in a drawing for $750.
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