The Hard Sell: Robert Heath discusses the role of cigarette and alcohol advertising

Robert Heath
Dr Robert Heath

Dr Robert Heath, Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Bath School of Management, joined celebrities such as Lord Tim Bell, Sir Alan Parker, Winston Fletcher, John Hegarty and Jilly Goolden, in The Hard Sell, a BBC TV documentary which examined advertising for drinks and cigarettes. 

The programme is part of a series of six, and Dr Heath will also be appearing in programmes on the 11th March and 1st April. 

Dr Heath, author of The Hidden Power of Advertising, discusses the power that advertising has to influence attitudes towards brands like Hamlet and Guinness.  He points out that humorous TV ads like Hamlet reinforce the idea that cigars are in some way less harmful than cigarettes, even though the evidence is that cigars can be just as harmful as cigarettes.

He also argues that epic ads like the Guinness Surfer are in effect like art movies, which flatter viewers into thinking that if they drink Guinness they will be seen as culturally sophisticated.

The programme can be downloaded from BBC iPlayer (for a limited time only).

Notes to Editors
Dr Robert Heath’s research focuses on the role of emotion and attention in advertising. He is a speaker with an international reputation on this subject and his widely-publicised monograph The Hidden Power of Advertising is translated into four languages and on its sixth UK reprint. Recent projects include research which establishes the flaws in current advertising evaluation metrics and a study which provides evidence that it is emotional content not rational content in advertising which drives brand relationships.

Dr Heath is a member of the School’s Centre for Research in Advertising and Consumption (CRiAC) which explores a broad range of consumption practices that constitute consumer culture in both developed and developing economies, and the role of advertising in the development of brands.

The Hard Sell is a BBC 4 series which looks at 50 years of British TV advertising. In this episode, entitled Cigarettes and Alcohol, it examines the quality of the ads that encouraged people to smoke and drink.

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General Notes For Editors:

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