Peter Mandelson has shrugged off complaints from rival agencies
that M&C Saatchi was given favourable treatment during the controversial
pitch for the pounds 16 million campaign to promote the Millennium
Mandelson, the minister without portfolio who is in charge of the
Greenwich project, admitted there was ’an accelerated process’ during
the pitch, but said it was ’one that took place over two months, it was
hardly one week to the next’.
Following complaints that rival bidders were denied adequate access to
the New Millennium Experience Company, Mandelson was questioned about
the affair on Tuesday by the Commons select committee on culture, media
and sport. He insisted M&C Saatchi emerged as the best of the bids.
Mandelson rejected a suggestion from the Labour MP, Alan Keen, that the
agency should have been excluded because of Bill Muirhead’s previous
work on the project.
The minister said it would have been wrong to ban M&C Saatchi from the
shortlist. Referring to his criticism of the agency’s Tory ad depicting
Tony Blair with ’demon eyes’, he said: ’Whatever you may say about it -
and I have said one or two things about it myself in the past - it is
one of Britain’s premier advertising agencies.’
Mandelson admitted some Labour MPs wanted him to exclude M&C Saatchi as
’an act of vengeance or spite’ because of its Tory links. ’I wouldn’t
dream of doing that because my job is to get the best professional
people working for the company and the best value for money.’