Saatchi & Saatchi made a secret bid to wrest some Labour Party advertising from BMP DDB. If successful, it would have pitted the agency against break-away rival M&C Saatchi, the Conservative Party’s agency.
Poster work was designed for the party by senior staff in the agency’s creative department in January this year, according to sources who recently left the agency.
The news confirms speculation that BMP DDB’s hold on the Labour Party account was rocky at the start of the year, and that the party was talking to other ad agencies.
The work portrayed the Conservatives as civil servants in bowler hats who are out of touch with public opinion.
Saatchi chairman Alan Bishop does not deny that there was an informal approach to the Labour Party. He says: “There has been no contact with Labour in an official capacity. However, we would be delighted if they wanted to use our services and we would like to go up against M&C Saatchi again and win.”
One source says: “The work was being mocked up in the artroom and it was all very hush-hush, though it quickly became an open secret in the office.”
He added: “The big thing was to try and get on the account to go head-to-head against M&C Saatchi; that drove the project.”
A spokesman for the Labour Party adds: “I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they were working on this at an informal level. Labour has a lot of links in the ad world.”
M&C Saatchi broke from Saatchi in January 1995, taking British Airways, Dixons, Mirror Group and PPP Healthcare with it.
The first and last time the two agencies fought each other on a pitch list was last December for the Sainsbury’s Bank account. M&C Saatchi won the account, understood to be worth 8m.