Labour in lead in election ad fight

The Labour Party has taken an early lead in the advertising battle

leading up to the general election on 7 June, managing to secure more

poster sites than its rivals in the last minute scramble for advertising

standout.



Both Labour and the Conservatives are concentrating their advertising

fire on the last two weeks of May and have rushed to snap up poster

sites that are still available at such short notice. The Tories have

secured 750 96-sheet posters at a rate card value of pounds 950,000,

while Labour will spend pounds 1.05 million on 3,000 48-sheet poster

sites.



The Tories have booked 2,500 sites for the first two weeks of June at a

cost of pounds 875,000 but will now try to offload the second week, as

the election will be over. Labour has booked 3,000 sites for about

pounds 630,000 for the first week of the month.



Both parties were forced to ditch their original advertising plans after

Tony Blair delayed the election from 3 May. Labour managed to offload

many of the 1,700 sites it had booked for April - mainly to the

Paramount Channel, which is promoting its Spin City programme with ads

featuring the names of Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson.

Paramount's agency, TBWA/London, is running Labour's campaign, although

Labour sources said it was not involved in the switch.



The Tories are believed to have found it more difficult to offload the

sites they had booked in the expectation of a general election in

May.



Nigel Mansell, the managing director of the outdoor specialist, Concord,

said: 'Labour is a nose ahead. It has been a little more advanced in its

movements and a little more deft in shifting its bookings. It will now

have a greater share of the voice.'



Labour officials said that the Tories were 'slow off the mark' when

Blair delayed the election from 3 May, claiming the Tories did not

approach poster companies until 5.30pm on the day the postponement was

announced.



A Tory source dismissed Labour's claims. 'We are quite happy that we

will have enough posters and money to run an effective campaign. It is

not about the most sites but having the best creative work,' he said.



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