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Many companies will pull ads as soon as war gets underway Tue Mar 18, 6:59 AM ET Add Business - USA TODAY to My Yahoo!
Michael McCarthy USA TODAY
The media industry stands to lose billions in ad revenue if the shooting starts in Iraq (news - web sites).
MasterCard International says it will pull all its ads from all media if the war begins. Procter & Gamble, Pepsi and Visa say they plan to ''go dark'' -- to cancel most or all TV ads.
There are exceptions: Anheuser-Busch plans to continue advertising, while being careful to screen out any that might offend.
But MasterCard has issued orders by letter to media that as soon as the war starts, it will yank its ''Priceless'' TV, print, radio and online ads for a period of one week, says Elisa Romm, vice president of North American brand building. Ads in magazines, which operate on a longer lead time, might still show up. After seven days, it will ''re-evaluate'' its wartime ad strategies. ''We don't want to be adjacent to war news,'' Romm says.
Dave Burwick, chief marketing officer of Pepsi-Cola, North America, expects to pull TV ads for ''as much as a week.'' The quick-response strategy of many advertisers seems less like the Gulf War (news - web sites) and more like the Sept. 11 attacks. Those attacks made marketers more ''sensitive,'' Burwick says. ''We started talking about this months ago.''
Media lost more than $1 billion in ad revenue after Sept. 11. That could double this time as advertisers have time to plan and as TV networks might go with ad-free news coverage longer, analysts say. The big networks alone stand to lose $1 million per day, predicts Tom Wolzien, media analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein.
Among major marketers' plans:
* P&G. The nation's second-largest advertiser ''will not advertise in any U.S. war coverage'' and will not return until ''normal, family and entertainment programming resumes,'' spokeswoman Linda Ulrey says.
* Visa. The card issuer will hold off on ads ''as long as TV coverage is exclusively devoted to war coverage,'' spokesman Joe Carberry says.
* Anheuser-Busch. The brewer will ''continue to run advertising, but it will be appropriate for the environment,'' says Bob Lachky, vice president of brand management.
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