Millennium task hits media glitch

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.

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

process.’



Bill Muirhead, the partner at M&C Saatchi in charge of the Millennium

account, was unavailable for comment.



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