Design consultancies wanting to apply for the identity contract for the newly-formed Department of Culture, Media and Sport, have met with a barrage of confusion over the application procedure.
This is the first high-profile pitch under the new Government and is being seen by the design industry as a test case for best practice. A department spokeswoman says the creative pitch will be paid for, breaking with the former Government’s tradition of unpaid pitches.
The former Department of Heritage invited 13 consultancies, drawn from a Design Council list, to submit credentials by 29 August, but it will also consider applications from parties not on that list (DW 22 August).
The shortlist includes Wolff Olins, Pentagram and the recently renamed Marsteller Giant.
Other potential applicants have been unable to find the information needed to apply for the job.
McBrides & Grandfield director Tim Dunnell was put through to the English Sports Council when he sought information. One unnamed designer says he was “sent around the houses” while another was “fobbed off”.
“It was generally known that there would be a new Government department which would need a corporate identity,” says a Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokeswoman.
Controversy over Government-related design contracts is nothing new.
Nucleus Design managing director Peter Matthews declined to enter the free pitch for the Department for Education and Employment in 1994. “With Tony Blair’s obvious enthusiasm and apparent commitment to UK design, I hope that any Government design contracts are handled professionally,” he says.
“There is often confusion around Government design projects and things have improved under Labour. I think Blair is genuinely committed to design and Government pitches are increasingly being paid for,” says Jenkins Group chairman Nick Jenkins.