Maurice Saatchi has told the Conservative Party that advertising is a double-edged sword which will not help a poor product.
Although he was speaking about advertising generally, some Tories in his audience at last week's party conference in Bournemouth saw his comments as a veiled reference to M&C Saatchi's ill-fated campaign at last year's general election.
The Tory peer said; "It accelerates failure when the cause is weak. It clarifies and strengthens the cause that is strong. Only honest thought, and merchandise, can stand the limelight or organised publicity for any length of time."
Far from being "a demon" seen by its detractors, advertising was a two-edged weapon that made a little-recognised contribution to society by forcing advertisers to live up to their claims.
"Instead of basking in the sunshine of their market strength, the very fact of advertising makes even the most powerful companies strive for something new and better to offer as frequently as possible," he said.
"His speech, at a fringe meeting organised by the Advertising Association, appealed to Tories to back the industry's fight against growing pressure for greater regulation and bans. It came as senior Tories confirmed they wanted to avoid an expensive contract with an agency at the next election and plan to set up a Creative Forum of volunteers (Campaign, 18 September).
Archie Norman, the party's chief executive, believes there is no reason why the party should repeat the £1 million fee M&C received for its multi-million pound blitz. Senior Tory officials, who clashed with Saatchi over the campaign, believe they will have more control over an in-house effort.
Saatchi, who will continue to give informal advice to the Tories but not be part of the new group, praised William Hague's conference speech, saying he had "brilliantly countered" Tony Blair's 'third way' philosophy. He also addressed a second meeting entitled; "Why this is the perfect time to join the Conservative Party".