A major scandal erupted around the tender for the media support activities at Artek International Children's Center. Russia's largest PR agencies were not accepted, as it turned out, because of the wrong client's brief. One of the participants is now preparing a complaint to the FAS, and will demand a second tender.
The Crimean camp of Artek, which is well-known to every Russian child, has announced a tender to choose partner for an information campaign for media coverage of events of January 18 this year. The maximum price of the contract, designated in the tender documentation, was to be 26 million rubles.
In terms of technical specifications, the contractor of the Center should conduct an information campaign to cover its activities, including the development of a PR-strategy, the campaign for information partnership with the leading media, organizing press conferences, radio and TV broadcatsts with the children's center representatives, work in social networks.
Well-known agencies submitted their applications: LBL (with the proposal of 25.1 million rubles); Mikhailov & Partners (21.2 mln); iMars (19.6 mln); SPN Communications (19.5 mln); KROS (19.5 mln); as well as lesser-known Primum (21.5 mln) and Media Project (24.5 mln).
At the stage of opening the bids the representatives of Artek did not receive offers directly from five companies, so only Primum and Media Project were allowed to compete. The wordings, which are called by the tender commission to be reasons to refuse the competition, appear to be ambiguous.
For example, LBL Communication Group was denied the tender because "in item 2.1 of technical specifications established by the customer was the requirement to to have the base of at least 100 relevant media. The participant offered "no less than 100 relevant media", "which does not comply with the tender documentation."
For the same reasons, the agency of Mikhailov & Partners wasn't allowed to participate; in its application it proposed "no less than 2-3 presentations by the customer during the quarter," while the tender demands least 2-3 presentations in the quarter, as well as proposed "at least 4 events", which is according to the requirements.
Below is the screenshot of the protocol review and assessment of applications (in Russian):
Thus, all 5 players have more or less the same reasons for the disqualification; iMARS agency was also banned because of that "not less than 100 mass media", SPN Communications - because of the four events. That is, the agencies used wordings taken from a rough design assignment, and were punished by a potential client.
As a result, in the list of participants ended up two teams not included in the top 20 largest PR-agencies according to AKOS version: Primum (Primum Mobile Agency PR & Consulting in the bid) and Media project. For their services they asked more than non-admitted agencies: 21.5 million rubles and 24.5 million rubles, respectively. The winner was Primum.
Sostav.ru decided to look into the situation and contacted the Deputy Director, the head of the service contract of Artek Alexander Kosykh. According to the representative of the children's camp, the rejected participants casually treated the specified parameters of the design assignment. Despite the fact that the agencies were ready to provide their services for little money, "it was not clear what they offered."
"In their applications, the participants didn't say what they would give for budget money," said Kosykh. "Maybe it is strange with relation to the cost of the contract, but we follow the law." In other words, the organizers of the tender did not specify the requirements fulfilled by the two remaining participants. And the other agencies did not specify them, because this was not required in the brief.
According to the president of iMars Communications, the decision on non-admission of the Russian leading communication agencies was not obvious and was not backed by anything. "iMars disagrees with the decision of the tender committee to reject its bid in an open tender and is preparing a complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service," said Vladimir Stupnikov.
IMars Agency will demand to recognize the actions of Artek illegal. "If the FAS agrees with our arguments, it will issue an order to eliminate the violations This requirement is usually performed by holding a new tender." said the representative of the iMars. Mikhailov & Partners and KROS declined to comment.
SPN Communications representative also expressed the company's disagreement with the outcome of the tender and noted that lawyers were studying the circumstances of the incident.