Conservatives bypass M&C in ideas hunt

The Conservative Party has bypassed M&C Saatchi and spoken to other ad agencies in the hope of producing fresh advertising to rescue itself in the final days of the election.

The move underlines the tension between Conservative Central Office, party chairman Brian Mawhinney and M&C, which was retained at the start of last year. The tension makes it more likely M&C will part company with the Conservative Party after the election.

The agencies, believed to include EURO RSCG Wnek Gosper, have presented alternative approaches to senior party bosses at Smith Square.

One proposed execution used images of the left-leaning MPs Frank Dobson, Margaret Beckett and Diane Abbott voicing anti-business comments to emphasise the people behind Blair. The offers of help were rejected on the grounds of cost.

But a Central Office spokeswoman denies that other agencies have been involved.

Observers have been surprised that the Conservatives have not attacked Labour on the potential cost of the minimum wage, the impact for employers of the European Social Chapter or on an expected post-Election interest rate rise.

Cover Story, page 38

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