Agencies lodge appeals against government roster

Dare, Mother London and Karmarama are among the agencies to have submitted formal complaints to the government after being omitted from its creative roster, as the Cabinet Office extends the "standstill" period.

Pablo: part of the government's Frank campaign
Pablo: part of the government's Frank campaign

Campaign revealed last week that a number of agencies were planning to appeal the government’s decision. Executives from Dare, Mother London and Karmarama have confirmed they have now made formal appeals.

Ten creative agencies made it onto the roster in February but some shops that created key government campaigns in the past have been overlooked, including Dare, which has been behind Department of Health anti-smoking campaigns.

Concerns have also been raised over the integrity of the bid process, which was handled by the Government Procurement Service.

Toby Horry, the managing director of Dare, said: "What we want is for a review of the process to take place. There are certain irrationalities that may have happened in the process and we want to be clear that it was a fair process and one that actually gets the government the agencies that it needs to do the work."

Mother London, which created the 'Frank' drugs information campaigns for the former government marketing body the Central Office of Information, has also entered an appeal.

Karmarama, which has not worked with the government before, also lodged a complaint.

Nicola Mendelsohn, the executive chairman of Karmarama, said: "As one of the largest independent agencies, you would think that we would get on [the list] as we represent British taxpayers’ money and putting money back into UK coffers.

"The government now has a spectrum to play with. There will still be other rounds for the digital and integrated lists, so they could include other agencies in there, or they could add more agencies to the roster."

However, some agencies that have previously worked with the government decided not to appeal the decision.

One agency executive, who asked not to be named, said: "We still have deep relationships with all the end user clients through our previous work, so we will maintain those relationships and when the GPS falls apart we’ll get back on roster. Until that time, we’ll just let the government fantasy play itself out."

The Cabinet Office received 80 bids for the framework, and said it would "naturally expect this to reflect in the number of clarifications requested."

The standstill period for agencies to appeal was to last for a minimum of 10 days, which expired yesterday, but will now remain open until the government has responded to all appeals and requests for clarification.

Shops selected for the roster were: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO; DLKW Lowe; Engine; Enter; Inferno; Kindred; M&C Saatchi; McCann Erickson; Ogilvy & Mather; and Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "The GPS operates transparent and fair tendering processes that ensure we are extracting the maximum value from every pound spent, while continuing to deliver high quality.

"A contract announcement will be made when this framework is finalised, after the successful completion of the mandatory standstill period."

The IPA has raised its concerns to the government. An IPA spokesman said: "Since the IPA has members which have been both successful and unsuccessful in the procedure, it is not the case that all of our membership are unhappy with the outcome.

"However, everyone has had concerns with the process itself, which we believe was not only unnecessarily complex and time-consuming – but excluded vital elements like experience, effectiveness and past success.

"Choosing agencies to develop effective communication campaigns is not like buying aircraft carriers or paperclips – and to adopt the same approach is unhelpful to everyone."

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