AMV.BBDO forced to repitch for £10m Digital UK ad contract

Confusion reigns over Digital UK’s £10m advertising account, as Abbott Mead Vickers.BDDO is being forced to repitch for the business it won in August because the review had not gone through official channels.

Confusion reigns over Digital UK’s &£10m advertising account, as Abbott Mead Vickers.BDDO is being forced to repitch for the business it won in August because the review had not gone through official channels.

Digital UK – formerly known as SwitchCo – the body formed to oversee the UK’s switch to digital television, insists the appointment was temporary. However, sources close to the original pitch say they were led to believe the account was awarded permanently.

In July, AMV.BBDO triumphed against WCRS, JWT and M&C Saatchi in a pitch overseen by the Haystack Group. But the review did not go through the Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC), the statutory tender process required of government bodies.

The below-the-line brief is due to go out to tender after Christmas, while the media planning and buying brief, which was handed to PHD Group as an initial project, will also go to a formal pitch (MW September 8).

Digital UK, a not-for-profit body, was formed by the public service broadcasters – the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, Teletext and S4C – and digital terrestrial multiplex operator Crown Castle UK. Its remit is to inform the public of the rolling switchover programme from analogue TV to digital. The timetable for switching was announced by culture secretary Tessa Jowell last month. It will begin in 2008 in the Border region and should be completed in 2012.

An invitation to tender for the advertising account has now been posted on OJEC, with a deadline of October 24 for bids. AMV.BBDO is expected to repitch for the business. The process will be overseen by communications director Beth Thornton. AMV.BBDO will continue to handle the account in the interim. Insiders suggest that the agency is likely to retain the business.

The account is worth about &£2m a year, with an overall budget to 2012 expected to top &£10m.

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