Is the UK government really planning to give its £285m ‘creative’ ad account to one agency?

Well that’s the logical conclusion from this story which appeared on Brand Republic last week, which I only caught up with today.

Apparently one of the contenders lost its homework so the process has been delayed.

Here’s the story.

In an email sent to creative shops from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) and received today (21 September) skirting the deadline, the industry body said: “GPS [Government Procurement Service] has decided to extend the return date of the Communications: Creative Solutions, Execution and Related Services to 15:00 on Tuesday 9 October 2012.

“An error involving a single supplier during the expression of interest stage has been identified and in light of this we have decided to extend the tender deadline to ensure fairness to all suppliers.”

This is understood not to be the first delay in the current process to award the Government’s creative advertising budget.

The coalition government is planning to spend £285m on communications for 2012/13, which is a significant increase on the £168m spent by the COI in 2010/12, the first year that the coalition was in power.

The GPS is also understood to be gearing up for a review of its media requirements early next year.

A spokesman for the IPA, said: “We are in dialogue with the GPS and we have raised concerns about the delay in the process and are arranging to meet with them to discuss the issue.”

Well it can’t be true surely unless some muppet in the government has decided that it will be cheaper to hire one ad agency than lots of them. Mind you, given the nature of the UK coalition government (chief whip Andrew Mitchell calling policemen ‘plebs,’ Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps being revealed as an internet scammer) I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at anything.

So who’s the lucky agency that’s going to win this cornucopia? And who’s the plonker who got the dates wrong (and is so important that the whole process has been put back)?

You couldn’t, as they say, make it up.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.