As well as BA and P&G, other high-spending advertisers such as Pepsi, MasterCard and Visa are looking at cutting ad or dropping them altogether as the conflict gets under way.
The leading networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, are able to sell advertising in the region of $100,000 a slot during prime time, when they sell 20 slots an hour. This means that, if they either switch to solid ad-free news programming or if advertisers withdraw, they could lose as much as $50m a day between the leading six networks. News magazines are also likely to be hit hard.
According to reports, MasterCard has already said that it will drop its "priceless" campaign during the first week of conflict. General Motors, the biggest advertiser in the US, will drop national advertising but will still run some spots on local and cable television.
American Express has a "war clause" in its advertising contract, which will allow it to cancel ads, and other brands such as Gucci and Merrill Lynch are reported to have asked their media companies to pull campaigns in the event of war.
Anheuser-Busch, owner of Budweiser, has said it will tone down its advertising, and MasterCard is to resume advertising with a more sensitive campaign, emphasising homeliness.
Advertisers and broadcasters are more aware than ever of public sensibilities following 9/11, where networks dropped advertising altogether in the days following the catastrophe. It took months before advertisers felt comfortable returning to the humorous advertising campaigns with which consumers are familiar.
In the UK, advertisers including BA, Lunn Poly and P&O are said to be watching the situation closely. BA has already cancelled flights to Kuwait and Tel Aviv. The airline is due to run more ads on Saturday, but is now reviewing the situation following the start of hosilities last night.
Not all advertisers are acting in trepidation -- Vodafone recently launched a marketing blitz centred on Kuwait City International Airport, as the international media arrived en masse.
War is also likely to see an Academy Awards ceremony devoid of much of the glitz and glamour, with reports that there will be no red carpet entrances from stars. Daniel Day-Lewis, nominated for a best actor role for the film 'Gangs of New York', said: "It would seem obscene if we're flouncing up the red carpet grinning when people are dying," neglecting to note that the Oscars ceremony often seems obscene whether or not the US is at war.
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This article was first published on brandrepublic.com