Five consultancies dropped as BBC reviews roster

Elmwood, Love Creative, Designate, Inferno and Easy Tiger have all been dropped from the BBC’s marketing communications and design services roster.

Some of the groups are indifferent to being dropped and have said being a BBC consultancy is not financially viable. The current roster has been in place since 1 June 2008 and expires this week, but while the BBC says it will ’extend a number of these contracts for 12 months’ with the option of a further 12-month extension next year, it says there will not be a roster review.

Elmwood chairman Jonathan Sands says the group has felt the financial pressure of being a rostered BBC consultancy. Sands says, ’Pragmatically, although we have been a rostered agency for many years, increasingly we had to pitch for every project.

The work involved was often significant, yet the budgets – should we be successful – relatively small.’ Two of those effected, Designate and Easy Tiger, are suggesting that despite being given the option to reapply for the roster, they have declined, citing cost-effectiveness and a protracted procurement process as unscaleable obstacles.

Kerry Wright, board account director for Designate, says that the consultancy’s initial tender process started in June 2007, before a pre-qualification questionnaire submission in autumn 2007 and a 14-page tender document in January 2008, prior to a face-to-face meeting and eventual appointment in May 2008. ’We went through all of that – think of all the costs of travel and hotels – only for three briefs to appear on the project wall [the broadcaster posts its projects on],’ says Wright.

’Costs have been high and the return has been zero.’ Easy Tiger director Brenda Lardner describes being dropped as ’a great relief’. She says, ’We have huge issues with the BBC. Mainly, working in the public sector we find most [design buyers] to be very good, but costs incurred with the BBC are enormous for a small consultancy.’

Lardner adds, ’It brings into question publicsector tension through time consumption. To run into the ground a so-called “best agency” on cost and process shows a lack of awareness. We would have resigned anyway if we hadn’t got the call.’ Love Creative and Inferno were unable to comment at the time of going to press.

A second roster, for creative services including strategy and identity, will be put out to tender in July. An EU procurement process will be held and prospective consultancies can find more information from, from where a downloadable tender form can be found via Bravosolutions, after the contract notice has been published by the Official Journal for the European Union.

Network news

  • The new marketing communications and design roster for the BBC is 999, Blast, D8, Harriman Steel, Premm Design, Red Stone Design andStudio Output
  • Almost half its original size, the new roster will be reviewed in 12 months’ time
  • The strategy and identity design services roster will be reviewed in July
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  • damien smith November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    We are ‘preferred suppliers’ on two of the BBC’s other creative rosters; and we recognise all to clearly the issues highlighted above.

    Tortuous submission process to get on the ASLs and then almost nothing to show for it over the last three years – just a handful of under-budgeted briefs (but over supplied with BBC producers, execs and project managers).

    Always a non-paid pitch process that usually feels more like a trawl for ideas than assessment on a companies pedigree and approach.

  • Joslyn Tinker November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    “On an emotional level we are disappointed as the BBC is a great name to have on your client list and almost every project we have done for them has been award-winning including our latest, ‘Tree O’Clock’ for the BBC’s Breathing Places.

    “Pragmatically the BBC process has been a challenge in that although we have been a rostered agency for many years, increasingly we still had to pitch for every project and the work involved was often significant and yet the budgets, should we be successful, relatively small. Which is why we increasingly found ourselves declining offers to take part as the financial opportunities didn’t make commercial sense. I guess this might have appeared as though we were disinterested in them as a client. That was certainly not the case but it did seem to us at least that continual prospecting for work (to someone whom you had already demonstrated your credentials many times over) was fundamentally unfair to our other fee-paying clients.

    “In fact we haven’t as yet been told we are no longer on the roster so this news story was news to us! Whatever the outcome we certainly wish the BBC and it’s new agencies well. We are very proud of our work for them and hope we will again one day work for The BBC.”

    – Jonathan Sands, Chairman of Elmwood

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