Let's do lunch inside the world of advertising

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Earlier this year, Live TV stuck Paul Gascoigne's head on Prince Charles's body in a royal wedding shot, then, when the Queen's disapproval was leaked, it followed up with Will Carling's head instead. Now another advertiser is using footage from that wedding to drive home its own mirthful warning. Who could it be? It's none other than the British Safety Council, promoter of condoms. Over a shot of the royal newlyweds kissing, the BSC's Spitting Image puppet, Johnny Condom, counsels: "Appearances can be deceptive". But this is tame stuff for the BSC. Less than a year ago, it issued a leaflet promoting condoms in which the figure beaming out of the photograph was easily identified as the Pope. That leaflet provoked 1,187 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, an all-time record.

Just a couple of months after the American management guru who invented "downsizing" declared that it had all been a terrible mistake - and only weeks after winning the Agency of the Year award at Cannes - Saatchi and Saatchi has taken an axe to itself. The agency is splitting up revered creative teams, and making 15 creative staff redundant. Adam Kean, who steps up to take control of the shaken-up creative department, gave the following, puzzling explanation to Campaign: "We are not satisfied with being the hottest creative department in London." More likely, surely, was a cost-cutting drive to satisfy shareholders in the parent company, Cordiant. But will they be satisfied? Even after the cuts, Saatchi retains twice as many creative teams as a rival agency with comparable billings, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO.

Government-funded advertising, which usually surges before elections, will not do so this year as the Government fears accusations of sleaze. One minister explained to Campaign the new, stricter interpretation of rules: "The Opposition is watching us like a hawk". Indeed, government adspend currently runs at just 62 per cent of its level in 1989-90. This, says the Central Office of Information, is because of big discounts the Government negotiated on media buying. Eh? So media companies are subsidising government ads, in the run-up to an election? Sleaze!

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