Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Advertising and the Gulf War

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Advertising and the Gulf War

Article excerpt

Advertising and the Gulf war

After a few weeks of advertiser paralysis following the outbreak of war, newspapers say ads are trickling back up to normal levels

The war in the Gulf seemed to leave no part of life untouched but, several weeks into Desert Storm, previously suspended advertising looks as though it is slowly returning to normal.

That is, as normal as it can be in these times of recession.

"In the beginning of the war, as the rest of the nation became paralyzed, advertisers found themselves in the same position. Advertising slowed down. It's still not great, but it has come back in the last couple of days," said John Kimball, vice president of advertising for The Record, in Bergen County, N.J.

Jack Cohen, vice president of print for DDB Needham advertising agency in New York, said that they are trying not to make any long-term commitments.

"Business is as usual, but we have to take it one step at a time," he said.

A recent survey conducted by Affiliated Advertising Agencies International (3AI) found that one-third of independent advertising agencies worldwide say advertisers have pulled ads out of print because of the war.

The survey found that those advertisers in Europe, Asia, South America, Canada and Australia were more likely to cancel ads than those in the United States.

Reasons advertisers listed for ad cancellations included concerns over depressed consumer spending during wartime and weak sales in the tourism, automobile and export businesses.

"Most airlines pulled back when the war started," said Bruce Bartholemew, Branham Newspaper Sales New York sales manager. "For the most part, those ads are starting to come back, except for the ones with schedules to the Mediterranean."

Among those that pulled ads were Continental, Delta and British Airway. Continental and Delta have since resumed their schedules, but British Airways had not.

Many European countries have stopped their tourist trade advertising. "Whether that will come back or not, we'll have to see," Bartholemew said.

Advertising for destinations that are seen as safe, such as the Caribbean or Hawaii, will most likely be reinstated, Bartholemew said.

"If advertising was pulled because of perceived dangers in certain circumstances, it will probably come back once the danger is seen as diminished," Bartholemew said.

The travel category is back about where John Frantz, national ad manager of the Baltimore Sun, thought it should be three weeks into the war but, he said, the week the war began, "everyone quickly pulled ads."

One difference he has noticed was the absence of fare and overseas flights advertising by the airlines.

Several people commented about the lack of fare advertising, citing the recent full-page Delta ad that was a tribute to travel agents, and a Pan Am ad that touted its top-rated service.

Frantz said he could not be sure all of the advertising reductions by the airlines were because of the war, especially with all the problems airlines were facing before the war began.

Cruise line advertising was "up a bit from the first of the year," but hotel ads for the Caribbean and Hawaii, while gone for the moment, will come back because they will "probably benefit from the Gulf war," said Frantz.

Jeff Greene, ad director of the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal, said nearly half (44%) of his national ROP advertising was lost when the war started, and most has not come back so far. The two categories hardest hit were airlines and automotive.

"I don't know if it would have happened anyway, with the USAir crash and Eastern going under. …

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