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Kantar is the research and data collection arm of public relations conglomerate WPP.1
Kantar itself is made up of 12 companies, including Kantar TNS, Kantar Media, Kantar IMRB, Kantar Health and Kantar Public.

Tobacco Clients

Kantar TNS: Japan Tobacco International

In 2018, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) commissioned Kantar TNS to conduct an opinion poll to investigate the popularity of the 1 year-old UK plain tobacco packaging law amongst the British public.2 Heralded by JTI as “the largest opinion poll of its kind since plain packaging was introduced”,3 the survey was carried out in one week and comprised of online interviews with 2,464 respondents. Despite the survey’s small sample size, JTI asserted that the survey was “regionally and demographically representative of the UK population”, and that the findings showed that “the majority of the UK public are not supportive of the plain packaging policy”.

Kantar Media: British American Tobacco

In 2017, British American Tobacco (BAT) commissioned Kantar Media to help the tobacco company identify issues to include in its Corporate Social Responsibility agenda, in particular around sustainability.4 On behalf of BAT, Kantar carried out a “global media review” to identify relevant national and international regulation and international standards and frameworks such as the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The review also included allegations regarding BAT or the tobacco industry, and risk monitoring and outlook reports such as those of the World Economic Forum. The results of the review, coupled with findings from stakeholder dialogues, were included in BAT’s 2017 Sustainability Report under three strategic themes, namely harm reduction, sustainable agriculture and farmer livelihoods, and corporate behavior.

Kantar IMRB: British American Tobacco

Since 2014, Kantar IMRB has helped BAT headquarters in London develop research protocols, carry out “experimental projects”, help process and analyse research data, and summarise the findings in presentations.56 Research projects have included (amongst others) “annual brand health exercises, simulated test marketing, consumer segmentation and category understanding, packaging research, pricing studies, and marketing sizing exercises”.

Preeti Reddy, Kantar IMRB’s President (and since May 2016 CEO Kantar Insight) used to work for BAT in India.7

Kantar Health: British American Tobacco

In 2011, Kantar Health undertook a survey for BAT to explore the “knowledge, perceptions and attitudes” about harm reduction among General Practitioners (GPs) in Britain and Sweden.8 The results, which favoured a tobacco harm reduction approach, were based on interviews and follow up questionnaires with 100 British GPs and 120 Swedish GPs. BAT presented the findings at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT) conference in 2013.

Historic Tobacco Work

Kantar Media: Developed Media Measurement System for Tobacco Industry

In the 1990s, RJ Reynolds and other tobacco companies worked with Kantar Media Research for three years to develop a readership measurement system called “Magazine Metrics”.9
The project was initiated in the wake of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal to restrict cigarette advertisements to black text on a white background in magazines with an under-18 age readership percentage of 15% or more. A measurement system would help magazines determine whether the new rules would apply to them. The FDA had suggested that industry “bring forth reliable research methodologies as alternatives to those cited in the FDA rules and accompanying commentary”.10
At the industry’s request, Kantar’s methodology was presented to the FDA in 1998 by Paul Donato, then CEO of Kantar Media (Donato left Kantar to join Nielsen Media Research in 2000). Internal tobacco industry documents suggest that the industry had strong input in the design of Kantar’s measurement system.11 It is unclear if the FDA adopted this system.

Indirect Funding From Tobacco

Kantar Public and the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World

Kantar Public has provided polling services to the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW), an ostensibly independent scientific organisation aimed at ‘accelerating the end of smoking’ but which is solely funded by PMI.12 In 2018 Kantar undertook a ‘State of Smoking Survey’ on behalf of the FSFW, which paid the research consultancy US$ 466,212 for this project.13
The survey was criticised by public health experts for not adding anything new to science and “providing market research for PMI”.14

TobaccoTactics Resources

Relevant Link

Kantar website

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  1. WPP, Kantar, WPP website, undated, accessed May 2018
  2. Results of a national public opinion survey on the perception of plain packaging on tobacco one year after its implementation in the UK, May 2018, accessed May 2018
  3. Japan Tobacco International, Plain Packaging on Tobacco Backfires Within First Year in the UK, Media release 17 May 2018, accessed May 2018
  4. British American Tobacco, Transforming Tobacco. Sustainability Report 2017, BAT website, 2017, accessed May 2018
  5. Abhijeet, Kantar – Account Manager/Account Director-Research, immjobs.com, 8 May 2017, accessed May 2018
  6. Kantar IMRB, Services: Qualitative, 2017, accessed May 2018
  7. Kantar names Preeti Reddy as president of IMRB International, bestmediainfo.com, 15 January 2015, accessed May 2018
  8. Survey of the knowledge, perceptions and attitudes about tobacco harm reduction among General Practitioners in the UK and Sweden, including their understanding of the risks of nicotine and the key factors associated with the health risks of smoking, British American Tobacco, SRNT meeting Boston 13-16 March 2013, accessed May 2018
  9. J.W. Singleton, Magazine Statement, 6 July 1998, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 520892375-520892377, accessed May 2018
  10. D.F. Keane, Memo from Keane to Barrington and Bring, Subject: Readership Research Presentation, 26 February 1998, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 3990065235-3990065260, accessed May 2018
  11. RJ Reynolds, Issues and Questions raised at the MPA meeting, 26 June 1998, Truth Tobacco Industry Documents, Bates no: 80317845-80312847, accessed May 2018
  12. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, 2017 Tax Return, 26 March 2018, accessed from Charity Navigator website, May 2019
  13. Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, New Global Survey Points to key issues, needs and gaps in fight to end smoking, 19 March 2018, accessed May 2018
  14. T. Kahn, Global smokers’ study criticised as biased, Businesslive.co.za, 20 March 2018, accessed May 2018