Parties forced to keep poster sites despite election delay

Labour and the Conservatives have been forced to keep most of their

heavy poster bookings for April despite Tony Blair's decision to

postpone the general election.



Frantic efforts by the two main political parties to find commercial

advertisers to take over the 2,500 sites they had each booked in the

expectation of a 3 May election appeared to be having limited

results.



Labour and Tory officials have reluctantly agreed to keep most of the

sites rather than pay cancellation costs of 90 per cent.



Blair's decision has forced both parties to rewrite their ad

strategies.



Labour will now prolong the life of TBWA/ London's 'Economic Disaster

II' ad featuring William Hague and Michael Portillo as Mr Boom and Mr

Bust.



Similarly, the Tories will revert to Yellow M's 'you paid the tax'

campaign which was launched in January.



Both parties will hold back ads that they had planned to run in the last

two weeks of April until May, ahead of the general election expected on

7 June. 'We are not going to waste our best ammunition now,' a Labour

source said .



But the scale of the May campaigns will be lower than in the usual

period before an election. The heavy spend in April will use up much of

the parties' budgets and, even if they raise more cash, new spending

limits may restrict a last-minute blitz.



Industry sources said that Poster Publicity for Labour and Posterscope,

which handles the Tories' bookings, were trying to offload some of the

sites booked for April.



Meanwhile, TBWA has created a party election broadcast modelled on the

film Independence Day. It will show the City of London under the shadow

of a spaceship representing a 'boom and bust' in Tory policies.



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