Maurice Levy lieutenant backs Maude plan to run government ads on BBC

Executives at media agencies and ITV will be grinding their teeth today as one of Maurice Levy's head honchos at Publicis has come out in support of the suggestion that the Government's Central Office of Information should run its advertising free on the BBC.

This was the idea floated earlier by Francis Maude, the cabinet office minister in charge of Whitehall's efficiency drive.

Now Richard Pinder, chief operating officer of Publicis Worldwide, has said, in true David Cameron style, that everyone has to pull together and that putting these campaigns on the BBC would save taxpayers' money in both directions.

According to the Guardian, Maude is already in discussions with the COI's media buying agency M4C (incidentally part of the WPP group run by Levy's great rival Sir Martin Sorrell) about how to carry out the plan.

Of course Pinder runs a company that is primarily about creative and digital work and doesn't gain any money from media buying and planning, so he can freely support the idea, knowing that it won't affect his revenues or profits.

Yet he won't have improved his relations with ITV which stands to lose tens of millions of advertising revenue. And what about his sister companies, Zenith Optimedia and Starcom, which are both in the hard-nosed and low-margin business of planning and placing advertising in a wide variety of media outlets?

They won't be so happy that one of their colleagues should blithely advocate the disappearance of such a large potential source of revenue, which last year ran to more than £200 million.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.