U.K. millennium exhibition taking pitches

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LONDON -- The organizers of the U.K.'s exhibition to celebrate the turn of the century will be commissioning almost $50m worth of work from advertising and marketing agencies over the next two and a half years.

The New Millennium Experience Company, a non- departmental government body, has put the accounts out to tender across Europe. Competitive pitches - between at least three agencies - will be held for each job as it arises. Tasks will range from designing the letter-head to mounting mass-market consumer advertising campaigns, possibly across several countries. The advertising budget is expected to top $28m.

Decisions will be based largely on value for money as $333m of funds for the exhibition are to be provided from the U.K. National Lottery.

The New Millennium Experience Company has appointed sponsorship specialists IMG to help raise an additional $250m from the private sector, with the necessary balance to be made up from ticket sales, merchandising and associative sponsorships (such as the sale of TV rights, the contract to provide soft drinks etc). British Airways has already publicly promised $10m to the exhibition.

The scheme, which will feature a theme park inside a huge 50 meter high and 300 meter diameter dome, was only given the final go-ahead by the U.K.'s recently elected Labour government two weeks ago, following a cost audit. It is set to appoint its first commercial and marketing directors (either one position or two) within the next month.

More than double the size of London's Wembley Stadium and 14 times the size of the city's major cultural venue, the Albert Hall, the exhibition on the formerly derelict Greenwich Peninsula is expected to attract between ten and 12 million visitors in its first year, contributing to the $833m to $1.6bn in tourism that millennium activities are predicted to bring into the whole country. Greenwich is the site of zero latitude from which world time zones are calculated.

"We are marketing the biggest event ever in the U.K., probably in the world," says Terence Gibbons, press officer for the New Millennium Experience Company. "This is in the same league as the Olympics in terms of people, spend, TV rights and merchandising deals. A lot of people have still not quite got the scope of this project.".

The new commercial/marketing director(s) will help set the timescale for raising general awareness through advertising, says Gibbons.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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