Car makers pin 'K' hope on advert orgy

THIS weekend sees the climax of an unprecedented round of advertising by Britain's car industry. An estimated pounds 70m has been spent in the last four weeks in a frenzied attempt to boost the stagnant car market with yesterday's new K registration plate.

The industry is praying that the advertising will push this month's sales to 400,000 new cars, which would signal a small recovery. But the torrent of advertising, with orders being turned down by ITV companies and nearly 40 products promoted on the small screen alone, will simply confuse consumers, some observers predict.

Derek Ralston, of the advertising agency Barker and Ralston, said: 'The creatives in many agencies don't know how to treat cars, and most are getting it wrong. Why on earth would someone buy a Nissan because they watched it being thrown out of an aeroplane on television?'

The advertising magazine, Campaign, estimates that agencies spent more than pounds 50m on television time alone in July, while research from Register/MEAL suggested that only pounds 94m had gone to television in the previous 12 months.

'August is the month, and August 1992 more so than ever,' said Douglas Thursby-Pelham, who manages Renault at the agency Publicis. 'If the industry does not put volume up this month, it's in trouble. August means everything because things have been so bad.'

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