Fury as TfL favours M&C Saatchi

Transport for London (TfL) has invoked the wrath of agencies by appointing M&C Saatchi to handle advertising for its corporate activities and the introduction of congestion charges, worth a total of &£24m.

TfL was running separate pitches for the two pieces of business and had invited some agencies competing to handle the congestion charges business to make final presentations next Wednesday. But the agencies pitching against M&C Saatchi – D’Arcy, WCRS, BMP DDB and Euro RSCG – were told last week that the business had been awarded to the agency, along with the corporate account. M&C Saatchi had already successfully pitched for the corporate account against Leo Burnett, McCann-Erickson and the incumbent, Partners BDDH.

One agency insider is outraged and claims that the pitch process had been “short-circuited”. He adds: “I am very surprised by the way the whole pitch for the congestion charges has been handled.”

A TfL spokesman, who admits that a decision was made to halt the congestion charges pitch once M&C Saatchi had been appointed to the corporate account, says: “The reason for placing the accounts with one agency is in the interests of value for money.”

Last week, TfL awarded the media planning and buying for both sets of business to PHD.

TfL was created in July 2000 to implement the Mayor for London’s transport policy and will take responsibility for the London Underground when the Public Private Partnership deal is completed. The congestion charge initiative has yet to be fully approved.

TfL is expected to make its below-the-line appointment later this week. Pitching are Carlson Marketing Group, Haygarth Direct, Clarke Hooper Proximity, Triangle and KLP Euro RSCG. The incumbent, Interfocus, is not repitching.

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