Labour moots pitch as it reviews relationship with BMP

By CLAIRE COZENS,, Friday, 20 November 1998 12:00AM

The Labour party is to review its advertising account and may call a pitch after it has held talks with its agency, BMP DDB.

The Labour party is to review its advertising account and may call

a pitch after it has held talks with its agency, BMP DDB.

Senior Labour figures insist BMP will not be dropped against its will,

but there is increasing speculation at Labour’s Millbank headquarters

that a ’parting by mutual consent’ may be on the cards.

Insiders say much will depend on the personal wishes of Chris Powell,

BMP’s chief executive. ’If he is determined to carry on, we will

probably stick with BMP,’ one source said this week. ’But if he wants

more of a back-seat role, we will go out to tender. We won’t hand it to

someone else.’

BMP has, in effect, handled Labour’s advertising since 1985 - initially

through its Shadow Communications Agency before being formally appointed

before last year’s general election.

Tony Blair will be involved in the decision and will rely heavily on the

advice of two close aides - Philip Gould, his pollster, and Peter

Mandelson, the Trade and Industry Secretary - who are both strong

supporters of Powell.

Although BMP played a less prominent role in 1997 than in previous

elections, Labour sources say Powell has emerged as a respected and

influential ’elder statesman’ since Blair became Prime Minister.

The other key figure in Labour’s decision on an agency will be Margaret

McDonagh, the party’s new general secretary. She has already shown her

determination to make changes by calling a review of Labour’s marketing


This has led to the departure of Evans Hunt Scott, its direct marketing

agency, which declined to repitch.

The review is being carried out by Mike Emery, a marketing consultant at

Thomas Cook, who has been seconded to Labour. But his work is unlikely

to include the choice of agency, decisions on which will be taken at a

higher level.

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