Diary: Cyprus Tourism cashes in on agency desperation

Welcome to the Diary's one-off award to the client setting new standards in chutzpah. Step forward, please, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation, a body that appears to have more front than Brighton.

Tourism accounts generally cause agency managers to break out in a sweat.

Pitches can be a bureaucratic nightmare and such business rarely results in a long marriage between agency and client. And as for getting insurance cover ... well, don't bother trying.

This, however, hasn't deterred the Cypriots, who have the brass knuckle to ask agencies shortlisted for their £3 million account to provide tender guarantees of 50,000 euros - about £30,000. This, they explain, is to "safeguard the interests of the organisation that the potential tenderer will fulfil its obligations". One agency chief has already told the CTO to shove its suggestion where the Mediterranean sun doesn't shine.

Industry consultants are horrified. "I thought I knew everything there is to know about pitching but clearly not," one says. "It's bloody outrageous."

Malcolm Summerfield, the SWK chairman, told the CTO he isn't prepared to pay to join the party but isn't sure about others. "This plumbs new depths but there'll be some who'll go for it," he sighs.

The Diary thinks the odds on the CTO getting a decent agency out of this are about the same as an Essex girl staying sober in Ayia Napa.

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