Crown versus WPP – media buying version, that is

‘Ello, ‘ello, what’s going on ‘ere?

Campaign reports that the Crown Commercial Service, which has taken over running UK government ad contracts from the late and entirely unlamented Government Procurement Service, has had to postpone its tender for all the Gov’s media buying, currently held by WPP’s M4C.

A Cabinet Office spokesman (the Cabinet Office oversees these farcical procedures) said: “We are undertaking the necessary due diligence to ensure that the procurement meets customer needs effectively, while delivering the best value for money for the taxpayer. We are engaging with the market on any changes to timescales.”

imagesWhich is the usual bollocks but suggests strongly that someone has screwed up. And the outfit with which you do not wish to screw is M4C owner WPP and its combative boss Sir Martin Sorrell (left).

Readers of the WPP website will, from time to time, be diverted by grovelling apologies proffered by those unfortunate enough (and unwise enough) to play ducks and drakes with WPP and its lawyers over contracts. Top UK agency search outfit Oystercatchers became entangled in one of these a while ago; Adam&Eve, now part of DDB (at huge profit) was almost strangled at birth by a £1m WPP legal action after its founders (from WPP agency Y&R) chatted up clients before they were was allowed to.

The appointment of the Government’s new media agency has now been put back to September, from June.

Which means that WPP’s M4C gets three more months of revenue. It is also a shot across the bows of anyone at the CCS who might think of moving the media buying contract anywhere else, without very good reason.

WPP’s GroupM, which negotiates for house media agencies Maxus, MEC, MediaCom and Mindshare, is by far the UK’s biggest media player. The old GPS was roundly condemned for its inability to select agencies sensibly and run pitches efficiently. The new brooms at the CCS might be thinking they’d better stick to the devil they know.

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