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Advertising goes quiet as world pauses

BRAND WATCH - Advertising was dropped as the world remembered September 11, and British Airways, once the 'world's favourite airline', faced life outside the FTSE-100, writes Jennifer Whitehead in this week's round-up of brand news.

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It was the week where advertising went quiet, as the world paused to remember the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US.

In America, 9/11 was a virtually advertising-free zone, with television stations broadcasting only children's advertising, to make the day seem as normal as possible for young children. In the commercial gallery that is New York's Times Square, the numerous giant screens broadcast only non-commercial programming, some of it devoted to those who lost their lives.

In the UK, ITV dropped advertising during peaktime on September 11, broadcasting a documentary about the attacks and special news bulletins without any ad breaks while Channel 5 ran a two-minute silence.

However, while some saw the move as a mark of respect for those who died, others were more cynical, saying it was because advertisers were struggling to come up with the right approach, following criticisms of US advertisers who changed their advertising to meet the mood of the times, including car companies offering 0% financing to help America get back on its feet.

BA continues to count the cost of the September 11 terrorist attacks, as it faced ejection from the FTSE-100 index for the first time since it was privatised in 1987.

The airline took the news on the chin and managed to avoid too much of a drubbing in the media over the move -- although upstart budget airline Ryanair did try to cash in by announcing it had written to the FTSE-100 seeking admission because "there should be at least one representative of the airline industry in the FTSE-100 index to replace British Airways".

However, BA is fighting back with a new £5m advertising campaign to win over passengers who have converted to the budget carrier way of travelling.

The price-led campaign will launch this weekend, and is the first time BA has advertised on a price basis since 1999's World Offers campaign. The campaign was created by agency of record M&C Saatchi.

Not so long ago, denim was being written off as yesterday's fabric, and the decline and fall of Levi-Strauss was being discussed. But a few catchy ad campaigns later, aided by some product innovation and the fluffy mascot Flat Eric, the Levi's brand is well and truly back.

This week, the jeans maker, whose latest advertising campaign exhorts viewers to "rub yourself", announced it was moving into protective clothing... of sorts. It is to launch a new kind of trouser in its Dockers range with radiation-proof pockets, designed to protect the mobile phone generation from any ill effects.

Levi's immediately found itself at the centre of a row over whether or not mobile phones are actually dangerous. But the company argued that it was simply responding to consumer concerns, rather than confirming that consumers were right to be worried about the effects of radiation from mobile phones.

Celebrating its 2,000th episode this week was 'Top of the Pops'. The show has been through ups and downs, looking like it was ready to be axed during the 1990s before an insistence on performers singing their songs live revived its fortunes.

Now the man behind that revival, Chris Cowey, has come out and said that the official singles chart is rigged and is dominated by songs that have had clever marketing and are not genuinely popular.

Cowey has said that the system should be overhauled to reflect the times we live in and should reflect the value of sales, rather than the number of singles sold, and incorporate internet downloads.

Speaking of which, Napster, which closed down last week after parent company Bertelsmann said it would not fund it further, could rise once again, but in a somewhat different form.

A Spanish adult-entertainment company, Private Media Group, has said it has offered 1m shares, worth £1.5m, to buy Napster's trademark and web address, which it will use as a file-sharing service for porn movies.

When marketing efforts prove too successful: Beaujolais nouveau was invented 30 years ago as a gimmick to flog bottles of "instant" wine to consumers all over the world.

However, its success has led to a collapse in sales of traditional Beaujolais, which unlike its mass-market counterpart, is not drunk until at least nine months after it is bottled.

As for Beaujolais nouveau, around 13m bottles of the stuff are to be turned into vinegar and industrial alcohol in order to clear the market for this year's release. No doubt a campaign will follow to revive the wine's fortunes, similar to those for other 1970s dinner party favourites, Blue Nun and Black Tower.

Hamleys, the world-famous toy retailer, announced it was buying the English Teddy Bear Company this week, saying it would give it the chance to "leverage our significant expertise in soft toys and accessories in a complementary and well-branded business". 'Postman Pat' is to be relaunched globally, with 26 new episodes to be made featuring a train and a new, Asian family. And McDonald's has denied that it is to axe its brand icon Ronald McDonald, which has been used since 1963, after reports that the clown mascot was outdated and out of touch with today's kids. Oh whatever.

Spare a thought for Albert Cialis of Kent. Pharmaceutical companies pay consultants handsomely to come up with names for new drugs. Mr Cialis is understandably upset because Eli Lilly has come up with the name Cialis for its new anti-impotence treatment.

The retired accountant is not taking this lying down and is campaigning to get the name changed. Eli Lilly says that the name is a play on the French word for sky, "le ciel", but Mr Cialis complained to the Independent on Sunday: "It is like being called the Viagra family."

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