Last week, the Government announced the ten agencies that had made it on to the creative framework – five months late. They are Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, DLKW Lowe, Engine, Enter, Inferno, Kindred, M&C Saatchi, McCann Erickson, Ogilvy & Mather and Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.
However, there was surprise that agencies with long-standing relationships with COI, such as Mother, Dare and Leo Burnett (which created work for the Department for Transport’s Think! road safety campaign), failed to make the list. Some are planning to appeal collectively and the IPA said it was in talks with the Cabinet Office about the process.
"The list doesn’t seem to have given any regard to past success," one agency managing director said, adding that they would appeal against their omission during the ten-day "standstill" period, which ends on 14 March.
In particular, there has been concern that the Government’s evaluation procedure was too heavily weighted
towards price and that the questions in the "technical/quality" section were "subjective". "It potentially sounds like this process was conducted by someone who doesn’t understand advertising," the managing director said.
Another agency chief said that, despite scoring full marks in the "technical" section, they had failed to make the list because their price was not deemed competitive. "I’m disgusted by the entirety of the process," the agency chief said.
There was also criticism that the roster failed to support domestic agencies. "I don’t think British taxpayers would want their money going to foreign non-domiciled companies," one said.
However, another agency expressed relief it had not secured a place: "This was based purely on ratecard price, with a terrible online submission system and no ability to speak to anyone. And all of this just to earn the right to pitch."
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "Governments need to communicate effectively with citizens, and we want to make these channels of communication stronger than ever before. This framework will mean we can spend money in a more strategic and coordinated way than in the past, with confidence that we are extracting the maximum value from every pound spent, while continuing to deliver high quality communications programmes. A contract announcement will be made when this framework is finalised, after the successful completion of the mandatory standstill period."