Yellow M, the Newcastle and Edinburgh-based agency, is to open a
London office following its surprise appointment by the Conservative
The agency will recruit a ’heavyweight, well-known’ managing director in
the next few weeks to head a seven-strong London team. The agency
employs 30 people in Newcastle, where it was founded in 1992, and 20 in
Edinburgh, where it opened two years ago.
Yellow M, which is likely to produce a hard-hitting anti-Labour campaign
this summer, was chosen by William Hague and Michael Ancram, the Tory
chairman, from a shortlist which also included Bates UK and the
Immediate Sales Company, an offshoot of M&C Saatchi.
Media planning and buying for the account will be handled by MediaVest,
which pitched alongside Yellow M.
Relations between M&C and the Tories cooled during the last election
after a series of hard-hitting anti-Labour ads were vetoed. Tory sources
admitted privately that a desire to end the party’s link with the
Saatchis, which dates back to 1978, was a factor in the decision. ’There
comes a time when you reach the end of an era and move on,’ one official
Ancram said: ’More than 20 years ago a hungry young agency helped
Margaret Thatcher to power and became a household name overnight. I
believe that Yellow M has the drive, talent and nerve to become the
Saatchi & Saatchi of the 21st century.’
The agency grabbed the attention of Conservative Central Office by
running an aggressive campaign for the Scottish Tories ahead of the
first elections to the Scottish Parliament a year ago.
Although Yellow M has yet to discuss its general election budget, all
parties are likely to rely more on tactical ads rather than heavyweight
poster campaigns because of a new law imposing a pounds 20 million limit
on each party’s election spending. The Tories’ adspend is likely to be
significantly less than their pounds 7 million budget at the last
’It is a great win for us,’ said Mike Dethick, the chief executive of
Yellow M, who will work on the Tory account with Ronnie Duncan, the
planning director, and the soon-to-be appointed managing director.
Dethick said he saw the comparison with Saatchis as a compliment
’because they achieved a lot for the Conservative Party’.
Hague was attracted by the idea of recruiting an agency away from ’the
political and media hothouse of London’, which ties in with his own
appeal to the voters.