Complaints are rife over the way bosses of the Millennium
Exhibition are setting about appointing an ad agency.
At stake for the competing agencies is a pounds 16 million budget
earmarked by the quasi-government body, the New Millennium Experience
Company, to promote the exhibition. Despite the size and profile of the
account, agencies had just four working days to prepare initial tender
Nick Phillips, the director-general of the Institute of Practitioners in
Advertising, is to write to New Millennium expressing his concern over
Agencies also claim information has been scarce at every stage and that,
although both executives handling the briefing are on holiday, competing
shops have been forced to sign documents forbidding them from
approaching anyone else connected with the exhibition.
An additional complication is that one shop on the shortlist of five -
M&C Saatchi - already has direct links with the New Millennium. Bill
Muirhead, one of M&C’s founding partners, is the client’s acting head of
communications, although he is understood not to be involved in the
Complaints about the timetable have been pouring into the IPA. Phillips
told Campaign: ’Three to four days is not long to respond to a
prestigious national task.’
The account was advertised on 1 July in the European Journal, which is
published on the Continent, but is usually filtered by consultants
before reaching London a few days later. Submissions had to be received
by 8 July.
The shortlisted agencies, M&C Saatchi, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Leo
Burnett, Ogilvy & Mather and TBWA Simons Palmer, were briefed last
Friday and now have to make written submissions by 12 August. Verbal
presentations are scheduled for 4-18 August, with a final decision
expected by the end of the month.
Geoff Hawkins, implementation director of New Millennium, was not
available for comment as Campaign went to press, while Moray MacLennan,
joint chief executive of M&C Saatchi, declined to comment.