So the benighted EC olive oil account has finally been awarded, after a
selection process which has dragged on for nearly two years and involved
a scandalous and farcical misuse of bureaucratic power.
The naturally Eurosceptical will tut delightedly at this further example
of byzantine inefficiency. But in fact it has precious little to do with
the pros and cons of European Union, and everything to do with a
monumental lack of understanding about how to conduct a simple, everyday
business activity - the pitch.
Last September the EC’s Comite Consultatif des Achats et Marches even
went so far as to declare the pitching process an invalid method of
recruiting a service. Instead it recommended using a method normally
used for furniture purchases. It therefore insisted that the whole
process - begun in July 1994, and which had seen an initial list of over
90 advertising and PR agencies whittled down to a pitch from between 15
and 20 consultancies - was inadmissible.
It was a decision worthy of the most far fetched ‘Yes, Minister’ plot.
This pitch - to promote olive oil, remember, not anything contentious
like the Euro or nuclear power - has been conducted with a level of
speed and efficiency which makes the UK Government’s dithering over
implementing a BSE crisis management plan look like lightning action.
The sheer waste of time and effort involved in the olive oil fiasco has
had agencies seething. And it is by no means an isolated incident.
ICO has already tackled the EC about its selection procedures on behalf
of the PR industry. But perhaps we also need a campaign to teach EC
bureaucrats about the simple facts of business.