Labour campaign ads chief walks out

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The Independent Online
The creative mastermind behind Labour's election advertising has resigned suddenly, raising doubts about the direction and effectiveness of the campaign.

At a time when everyone involved in Labour's election push is working at full stretch, Peter Gatley, creative director on the Labour account, has quit his job at the party's advertising agency, BMP DDB, and gone on holiday.

Mr Gatley joined the agency in 1984 and won a string of industry awards for his work, including a campaign for the former GLC in 1985. Last year he ran the agency's lucrative Barclaycard business. In January he was asked by Chris Powell, BMP DDB's head, who works closely with the Labour leadership and is the brother of Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff, to design the party's election advertising.

He devised a twin strategy of aggressive, negative messages attacking the Tories, followed by a positive, uplifting theme, promoting Labour, as election day nears. The poster showing the "two faces" of John Major promising no tax rises, then making them, is credited to Mr Gatley.

The next phase was supposed to have been strongly positive. However, after what agency insiders claim was a row between Mr Gatley and the more cautious Mr Powell, a more downbeat slogan emerged: "Britain deserves better."

This, Mr Gatley is understood to believe, was too weak and not punchy enough. Increasingly frustrated at his lack of authority and having his views over-ridden by Mr Powell, he resigned and went on holiday in the north of England.

"'Britain deserves better' was the last straw," said a source close to Mr Gatley. "He thought it was too negative for a positive.

"The message was meant to be very positive but this was lame and still knocking.

"He wanted something more direct, saying Labour is great, something that would play Blair up rather than take a pop at what has gone before."

BMP confirmed that Mr Gatley had gone. Mr Powell declined to comment on his departure.

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