Caught in the crossfire of internecine warfare between government departments, ad agencies on the roster of COI Communications – the administrative interface between the British government and its official advertising and marketing agencies – say they have been warned-off pitching for business from the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

The latter recently opted to bypass the COI and run its own agency pitch procedure [WAMN: 23-Nov-01], a move said to have ruffled more feathers at the COI than on Elton John’s party frock.

According to the ceo of one COI roster shop: “We were told by COI that we should be careful about the DTLR. We took that to mean that we could be left off the shortlists for future COI work if we pitched for the DTLR business.”

It is claimed the same nods and winks were directed at other COI agencies, whose number includes Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, D'Arcy and Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R. But, opined one unnamed adman: “I don't think threats will work. In the current climate, agencies need every bit of business they can get.”

Carol Fisher, COI's chief executive, declined to comment, although a COI spokeswoman bravely substituted for the firing squad. Asked if COI executives had been leaning on its shops, she replied: "Absolutely not. We would not do that. We advise our agencies they are free to pitch for what they want.”

News source: CampaignLive (UK)