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Tories sack two marketing agencies to save cash

LONDON – The Conservative Party has had to sack two marketing agencies in what is believed to be an attempt to save cash.

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The party, which currently does not have an advertising agency, has parted company with below-the-line agency Other Creative and database company Tree, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The party has ended its relationship with the agencies following a review of its marketing activities by party treasurer Sir Stanley Kalms.

One insider quoted said: "The party finances were not looking very good at all. If it wasn't for the fact that Sir Stanley has a very large private budget, things would be much worse."

Other Creative is reported to be challenging the move to axe it and claims it has a contract that is due to run until April. Between the two, the agencies account for just over £1.1m in marketing spend.

It is not clear whether the newly appointed Conservative Party marketing chief Victoria Borwick, who joined from the Daily Mail earlier this year, is involved in the move. Borwick, who was Steven Norris' running mate at the 2000 London mayoral election, was appointed director of income generation and marketing, responsible for gaining new revenue from the Tories' supporter base.

The Tories have had little success with its communications strategy of late. The party has still failed to replace its communications director after the departure of Amanda Platell more than a year ago.

However, sources close to the recruitment process say party bosses have drawn up a shortlist of candidates for the top PR role, with Kevin Bell, managing director of Fleishman-Hillard-owned firm GPC, understood to be among those being considered.

It is understood that the party is looking for a PR chief with a strong commercial background and marketing experience.

Bell is known to already provide ad hoc communications advice to the party, and is a close ally of a number of leading Conservatives, including former chairman David Davis and MP Michael Portillo, both of whom stood unsuccessfully in last year's leadership race.

The party's last advertising agency Yellow M, the Newcastle-based agency that created the Conservative Party's political advertising campaign for the last general election, went into receivership earlier this year and has not been replaced.

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