PR Team: The Greenwich Millennium Trust, Corporation of London and
Campaign: Raising Millennium bid cash
Timescale: July 1995- January 1996.
Cost: pounds 12,500 and the in-house resources of Corporation of London
and London First
In July 1995, the Millennium Commission announced a short list of four
locations for the proposed year 2000 celebrations - the Birmingham NEC,
Pride Park in Derby, Greenwich Peninsula and a site at Bromley-by-Bow in
Derby spent an estimated pounds 150,000 on PR bringing in Good Relations
and Birmingham hired Consolidated Communications, while Bromley-by-Bow
used Sharon Kean Associates. The Greenwich Millennium Trust relied on
in-house team headed up by Sir Bob Scott, who led Manchester’s bid to
host the Olympic games, and a joint campaign by the Corporation of
London and London First.
Despite later claims that the decision was a foregone conclusion,
Greenwich was at a disadvantage. Its rating as a location received a
considerable boost by the announcement of the Jubilee line extension,
but land proposed as a site, was owned by British Gas, not the council,
and unlike some of the other contenders, the council did not have any
equity. So, Greenwich needed to raise private sector finance to match
potential pounds 200 million Millennium funds.
To maximise the chances of Greenwich’s bid to host the Millennium
Exhibition by raising pledges of cash to meet, or outdo rival bids.
Aware of the potential for Bromley-by-Bow’s bid to split the sympathies
of the London business community, the Greenwich team immediately
established links with sympathisers at the Evening Standard and local TV
news programmes such as London Tonight and Newsroom South-East
Transportation was seen as one of Greenwich’s major weaknesses, so the
Trust commissioned a survey showing that it would be possible to move
more than 100,000 visitors a day into Greenwich, using public, and in
particular, river transport. The findings were presented to the press at
a launch on the Thames in October 1995.
On 25 January 1996, Scott, Michael Cassidy, policy chairman of the
London Corporation and Stephen O’Brien, chief executive of London First,
joined the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House for a private meeting hosted
by the City. The discussion’s central points were relayed on TV,
including a BBC live-linkup.
A ‘bid office’ and Business Pledge Hotline was set up at the Guildhall,
where Scott and O’Brien worked along side a press team headed up by
Corporation of London’s head of press Patrick Barrow.
London Tonight ran a four- minute news item including a live link from
the Guildhall, and continued to support the Greenwich bid with reports
throughout the pledge period. BAA chief executive Sir John Egan’s
decision to publicly pledge pounds 10 million gave added impetus to
When the NEC produced a poll saying that 60 per cent of Times Top 1,000
companies supported Birmingham, Scott appeared on London News Radio
pointing out that, as only 44 companies had responded to the survey,
this actually represented only 2.6 per cent.
By the cut-off date in January, pounds 100 million, including six
pledges of pounds 10 million from the business community, had been
confirmed. An unofficial announcement that London had won, appeared in
the Financial Times on 23 February, confirmed by the Millennium
Commission on 28 February, against a backdrop of bitter recriminations
from MPs and interested parties in the Midlands.
On a minuscule budget, the bid team showed itself able to unite both
corporate budgets and public opinion, while Birmingham’s declared spend
of pounds 500,000 including advertising and opinion polls came to
However the sweet taste of success must have been soured by allegations
of dirty tricks campaigns - the public squabbling surrounding the bid
providing a rather inappropriate launch pad for the forthcoming