Row brews over Millennium task

Complaints are rife over the way bosses of the Millennium Exhibition are setting about appointing an ad agency.

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

documents.



Nick Phillips, the director-general of the Institute of Practitioners in

Advertising, is to write to New Millennium expressing his concern over

the process.



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

pitch.



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.



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