Yellow M opens in London after Tory win

– Yellow M, the Newcastle and Edinburgh-based agency, is to open a London office following its surprise appointment by the Conservative Party.

– Yellow M, the Newcastle and Edinburgh-based agency, is to open a London office following its surprise appointment by the Conservative Party.

The agency will recruit a "heavyweight, well-known" managing director in the next few weeks to head a seven-strong London team. It currently employs 30 people in Newcastle, where it was founded in 1992, and 20 in Edinburgh, where it opened two years ago.

Yellow M, which is likely to produce a hard-hitting anti-Labour campaign this summer, was chosen by William Hague and Michael Ancram, the Tory chairman, from a shortlist which also included Bates and The Immediate Sales Company, an offshoot of M&C Saatchi.

Tory sources admitted privately that a desire to end the party's link with the Saatchis, which dates back to 1978, was a factor in the decision. "There comes a time when you reach the end of an era and move on," said one official.

Ancram said: "More than 20 years ago a hungry, young agency helped Margaret Thatcher to power and became a household name overnight. I believe that Yellow M has the drive, talent and nerve to become the Saatchi & Saatchi of the 21st century."

The agency grabbed the attention of Conservative Central Office by running an aggressive campaign for the Scottish Tories ahead of the first elections to the Scottish Parliament a year ago.

Although Yellow M has yet to discuss its general election budget, all parties are likely to rely more on tactical ads rather than heavyweight poster campaigns because of a new law imposing a £20 million limit on each party's entire election effort. The Tories' ad spend is likely to be significantly less than their £7 million budget at the last general election.

"It is a great win for us," said Mike Dethick, chief executive of Yellow M, who will work on the Tory account with Ronnie Duncan, the planning director, and the soon-to-be appointed MD.

Dethick said he saw the comparison with Saatchis as a compliment "because they achieved a lot for the Conservative Party."

Hague was attracted by the idea of recruiting an agency away from "the political and media hothouse of London", which ties in with his own appeal to the voters.

Despite the expansion in the capital, Dethick said: "We are a grassroots agency and that is where we will still be coming from." Media planning and buying for the account will be handled by MediaVest, who pitched alongside Yellow M.


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