NEWS: Queries raised over EC’s citizens’ rights campaign

The European Commission is at the centre of a row about the tendering of contracts for a PR campaign to sell the benefits of the single market.

The European Commission is at the centre of a row about the tendering of

contracts for a PR campaign to sell the benefits of the single market.



Roger Haywood, deputy chairman of Worldcom Europe, has written to the

Commission to complain about the way it carried out the agency selection

process for the pounds 5 million budget Citizens First campaign (PR

Week, 14 June).



Haywood has said that if he fails to receive a satisfactory reply he may

take the matter further, possibly in the form of legal action.



The tendering process was run by the Commission’s marketing and

financial services arm DGXV and its information division DGX. It was

headed by John Farnell, deputy head of the unit dealing with free

movement of persons and direct taxation at DGXV.



The account, to promote the rights of the inhabitants of the EU’s 15

member states, was won by advertising agency Ammirati Puris Lintas,

supported by Paris-based PR consultancy Information et Entreprise and

media buyer Initiative.



Lintas was the only advertising agency asked to pitch. The three others

on the shortlist were all PR specialists: Worldcom, Hill and Knowlton

and Burson-Marsteller.



‘We were delighted to find B-M and Hill and Knowton on the shortlist but

concerned to see Lintas there for what was quite clearly a PR brief,’

said Haywood.



His contention is that Lintas was not subject to the same selection

criteria as the other agencies.



Haywood claims Worldcom spent in the order of pounds 50,000 on the

tender, the first part of which was to devise the strategy for the

campaign.



H&K Belgium managing director Elaine Cruikshanks also thinks the

Commission ‘moved the goalposts’.



‘In some ways they were quite sophisticated,’ she said. ‘But they were

not very clear on the distinction between PR and advertising. They

didn’t understand PR at all.’



Farnell was unavailable for comment.



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