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
‘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,’
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
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.