Labour calls general election ad pitch

Labour minister Douglas Alexander opens talks with advertising agencies, as the government prepares for early election.

The Labour Party has approached agencies to pitch for its advertising account in the run-up to a general election.

Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for International Development, is understood to be handling the review, and is planning to draw up a shortlist of agencies to pitch for the business.

Beattie McGuinness Bungay, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, CHI & Partners, and the digital shop Profero are understood to be among the agencies contacted.

According to reports, Gordon Brown is looking seriously at calling a general election for 1 May 2008. However, some commentators are predicting an earlier election date in the wake of a series of opinion polls that show Labour six or seven points ahead of the Conservatives since Brown replaced Tony Blair as the leader of the party.

Technically, an election does not need to be called until the summer of 2010.

Earlier this year, the Labour Party appointed the direct marketing agency Experian to create and manage its voter-contact database for both national and local campaigns. The system will enable the party to communicate with voters on a national and local level by managing permission-based e-mail and direct marketing campaigns.

In the run-up to the last general election in May 2005, all the major political parties spent less on their traditional billboard blitzes in favour of direct response campaigns, aimed at getting the electorate out to vote.

Labour's 2005 election ad campaign was handled by TBWA\London and featured a print ad that took a swipe at Saatchi & Saatchi's famous "Labour isn't working" poster ad for the Conservative Party, which helped bring Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979. The ad used positive images of modern Britain such as football stadia and Olympic gold medals and the strapline: "Britain is working."

The agency also created two ads attacking the Tory leader Michael Howard that were pulled after accusations that they were anti-Semitic.