Maurice Saatchi has had close ties to the Conservatives since he won their account in 1979 at his former agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising. U.K. Prime Minister John Major and other politicians appeared at M&C Saatchi's first anniversary party last week at London's Saatchi Gallery.
The memo, headlined "New Labour, new danger," was leaked last week to the Labour Party, widely expected to win next year's general election. It proposes an ad campaign specifically designed to undermine Labour's credibility.
$15 MIL AD BUDGET PROPOSED
The document also suggested an ad budget of $15 million-and a $1.5 million fee for M&C Saatchi.
Outraged Labour officials condemned the memo, saying it sets a negative tone when the unpopular Conservative government should be unveiling a positive agenda for the country.
"The...Conservatives have given up trying to win the election," a Labour Party spokesman said. "They are trying to scare people to death about a Labour government."
Aggressive ads attacking Labour are nothing new for the Saatchi team. The most famous image of the 1979 campaign was an outdoor board featuring a long line of unemployed people with the headline "Labour isn't working."
In the last general election campaign in 1992, Saatchi & Saatchi ads played heavily on fears that Labour governments raise taxes.
M&C Saatchi Account Director Steven Hilton confirmed the leaked document featured details of a campaign attacking Labour's policies. But Mr. Hilton stressed the contents were a "wish list" of what the agency would do with a $15 million budget.
"That is what we plan to do if we had that amount. But it won't be far off," he said.
SAATCHI ALUMS HELP PARTY
Maurice Saatchi is working with a host of Saatchi & Saatchi alumni, including Mr. Hilton, who followed him to the current agency. The creative work is being overseen by M&C Saatchi partner Jeremy Sinclair and, privately, by Charles Saatchi.
The Labour Party plans to spend just $3 million to $4.5 million on ads between now and the election. A campaign Labour calls "On the Road to the Manifesto," from BMP DDB Needham, London, will break July 4 and run through the fall.