COMMENT: EDITORIAL; Olive oil proves a slippery issue

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.

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.



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