Tories look to Saatchi and Bell for salvation

The Conservative Party has drafted in Lords Bell and Saatchi - the PR and advertising giants credited with helping gain and sustain power for Margaret Thatcher - to boost the party's flagging image, PRWeek can exclusively reveal.

Chime Communications' Tim Bell and M&C Saatchi founder Maurice Saatchi are the first party supporters to agree to join a 'strategic comms committee' to devise PR strategies to turn around the Tories' fortunes.

A party spokesman said the line-up of the committee - understood to be the brainchild of director of strategic comms Paul Baverstock - was yet to be completed and the committee had yet to convene.

However, the spokesman confirmed that Bell - who first advised the Tories in 1976, when Thatcher was elected party leader - had agreed to chair the panel and Saatchi would also be a member.

Bell said he hoped to confirm the line-up - to be made up of 'those sympathetic to the party' and 'skilled in marketing and communications' - within a couple of months.

Bell said this was 'early days' for the panel, insisting it had not yet decided on any firm objectives.

Baverstock - the former Labour candidate who joined the Conservatives from a role as chief operating officer at Bell Pottinger Communications in January (PRWeek, 13 December 2002) - was not available for comment as PRWeek went to press.

It is understood that other high-profile Tory backers have already been approached and are thinking over an offer to help Central Office, while others are likely to be approached in the coming days.

Lord Saatchi's first company, Saatchi & Saatchi, devised the Tories' famed 'Labour isn't Working' slogan in 1978.

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