The Conservative Party’s press buying has moved from Optimedia to CIA
Medianetwork following a disagreement over how much the company should
M&C Saatchi, which handled the negotiations, rejected Optimedia’s cash
demands and warned the party would go elsewhere unless Optimedia matched
a rival offer.
Optimedia then withdrew and M&C Saatchi switched to CIA, which it had
already sounded out about the Tory business and with whom it has a close
relationship. There was no pitch.
Optimedia has handled Tory press buying since it left Zenith Media last
year, when the party severed its links with Saatchi and Saatchi.
Sources denied that M&C Saatchi was seeking a buyer that would charge
less than commercial rates in order to help the Tories. The agency said
all political parties normally pay ratecard charges for press ads as
newspaper publishers are reluctant to face charges of giving back-door
Tory officials said it was too early to estimate the value of the
account. They said the party was likely to have a heavy poster spend in
the run-up to the general election, since the money went further than on
press. Poster buying is handled by Concord.
However, the Tories’ press spend could still run to several million
pounds because party strategists hope to spend around pounds 10 million
on advertising between now and the election, including pounds 5 million
in the three-week campaign before polling day.
Simon Lloyd, chairman of Optimedia, said: ‘We never had a contract with
anybody concerning this business even though we helped M&C Saatchi by
placing ads between December and now.’