Agencies pitch for pounds 5m brief to restore rail image

The Association of Train Operating Companies is calling for

agencies to tender for a pounds 5 million task aimed at turning around

the battered reputation of rail services in the UK.

The incumbent, BMP DDB, is pitching for the account. Saatchi & Saatchi

and Lowe Lintas & Partners have approached the ATOC. They have until 6

April to submit formal tenders.

An ATOC spokesman said the business, which would consist of national

press, TV and radio executions and media buying, would be concerned with

'rebuilding confidence and attracting new passengers to rail'.

The spokesman commented: 'We're not sure if it will go ahead - we're

testing the waters. We've still got negotiating to do with other

parties. If it does get the green light, we can hit the ground running.

We hope to get the green light within the next week.'

The final go-ahead will rely on the agreement of the Strategic Rail

Authority and Railtrack to join in on the project. A decision is

expected by the end of the week.

The ATOC, which represents Britain's train companies including Virgin

and GNER, is looking for an agency that can offer an integrated

approach, including media handling. The tender brief states: 'The

services required will include the development and production of

advertising campaigns in relation to passenger rail travel, together

with the purchase of appropriate media space.'

The deadline for tenders is 9 April and the pitch process will go ahead

immediately afterwards.

In September 1999, the ATOC appointed BMP DDP to create a pounds 400,000

press campaign to thank its millions of passengers for being patient

while it makes improvements to the railway.

Earlier that year, the ATOC had appointed Craik Jones Watson Mitchell

Voelkel to handle its pounds 1.5 million integrated ad account to

promote the young person's and senior citizen's railcards.

This account is not affected by the review.

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