Tory Party picks former ad exec to head marketing as rebrand looms

The Conservative Party has hired former ad agency account director Anna-Maren Ashford as its chief marketer as the party looks set to undergo a major rebrand featuring a new-look logo.

Ashford, who joins from Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, where she worked on the Virgin Mobile and Powergen accounts, will have the title head of brand. She is thought to be the party’s first marketing chief since former 02 marketer Will Harris was hired by former leader Michael Howard in 2003 as director of marketing, only to leave the role nine months later.

It is understood Ashford, who has already joined the party, has been hired by Steve Hilton, director of communications for The Conservative Party. Hilton, a former M&C Saatchi advertising executive, was appointed by leader David Cameron and is one of the coterie of Tory modernisers surrounding Cameron, who are known as the “Notting Hill set”.

One source says the party is concentrating on getting its brand right before launching any new policies. But he warns: “The challenge of coming in to this marketing role is that the party is not really a marketing-led organisation. Change has to run across all aspects of the organisation and its points of contact with ‘customers’, but the party constitution puts power into the hands of constituency organisations.”

There is speculation that the torch logo of the Thatcher era is to be axed. An oak tree is thought to be the favoured replacement.

Ashford is expected to play a key role in hiring an ad agency for the party’s next election campaign. In 2005 the Conservatives worked with Immediate Sales, a division of M&C Saatchi. Although the campaign ended in the Tories’ third successive defeat, the agency claimed it had helped the party secure its “biggest electoral success for 22 years”.

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