The British government has handed Ogilvy & Mather, London, a brief to resuscitate the nation’s beleaguered tourist industry, currently devastated by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease. O&M won the business unopposed, there being no time to hold the customary pitch among government roster agencies.

The hastily created emergency campaign, confined at present to Britain itself, aims to counter public perceptions that rural tourist areas are closed for business - a view whipped-up by the media and the vociferous farming lobby. This has caused an avalanche of cancelled bookings, said to have cost the tourist industry hundreds of millions of pounds already and predicted to run into billions unless the decline is halted.

Environment minister Michael Meacher, told the House of Commons last week that the campaign will be “massive” with an initial spend between £500,000 and £1 million. Prime minister Blair’s office later suggested the budget could run to £10m.

Said Meacher: “The campaign will set the record straight and state that it is far from true that the countryside is out of bounds." It also underlines the benefits the public could bring to decimated rural businesses by visiting the areas.

Meantime, in a classic case of left and right hands ignorant of each other’s actions, the Scottish Tourist Board is counting the cost of cancelling its £2 million spring advertising campaign. Despite incurring media cancellation penalties – believed to total tens of thousands of pounds – the Board said it would be “inappropriate” to run with the campaign during the foot and mouth crisis.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)