The pounds 16 million New Millennium Experience Company media
buying account could come up for grabs following a behind-the-scenes row
over M&C Saatchi’s hold on the business.
When M&C Saatchi won the creative account in August, it was implied that
the agency had the right to award the media buying account to its
preferred media supplier. Speculation is mounting that this will be
Walker Media, M&C Saatchi’s joint venture with the former Zenith boss,
Christine Walker (Campaign, last week).
But some Government sources have now questioned whether the buying
business has been subjected to the competitive tendering process usually
required of accounts involving public money.
The advertising account, advertised in the Official Journal of the
European Commission in July, invited tenders from agencies for an
integrated campaign ’to include creative development and media
planning’. Media buying was not specified.
One Government official said: ’The media buying element of this account,
which is huge and prestigious, hasn’t been part of a true competitive
tender process.’ Representations may now be made to the Treasury to
raise the issue officially.
A NMEC spokesman said that the need to sort out the NMEC’s advertising
quickly meant it was allowed to use accelerated procedures and that only
accounts which involved fees of more than pounds 150,000 had to be part
of a separate tendering process.
However, another Government source said: ’EC legislation clearly states
that if the value of a contract exceeds pounds 108,000 then the work
must be competitively tendered via OJEC procedure.’
One agency which originally pitched for the NMEC account said this week:
’We had a big debate about whether it included media buying. When we
asked whether buying would be part of the Central Office of
Information’s media responsibilities or a separate account, the NMEC
said it didn’t know yet - and that was right in the middle of the pitch
Bill Muirhead, the partner at M&C Saatchi in charge of the Millennium
account, was unavailable for comment.