05 October 2000

Ogilvy & Mather executive Bill Gray has come out fighting in the row over his company’s billing for its campaign on behalf of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

In a statement issued yesterday, Gray insisted “It is the policy of Ogilvy to ensure that billing for services is both fair and appropriate”, adding “We have charged [the anti-drug office] within the industry standard, and if we learn of any accounting problems, we will address them and make any necessary adjustments”.

This statement followed a call by Rep. Robert Barr, in front of a House Government Affairs subcommittee hearing, for the GAO, the investigative unit of Congress, to quiz Gray over O&M’s billing for the account. The GAO subsequently agreed.

The anti-drug office has repeatedly stated that they have no evidence of fraud, though unsubstantiated allegations were reportedly made in April claiming timesheets had been altered to boost revenue.

The anti-drug office has held back some of the billings from O&M, including $7.8 million out of the $23m for fees and labour, $4m for media and $1.2m for media production expenses.

However, anti-drug officials claimed this may be because the government requires more detailed documentation and confirmation of what it needs to pay before it settles the billings.

News source: Advertising Age - Daily Deadline