COI seeks agency for New Deal brief

LONDON - The government is holding a creative and media pitch for the Department of Work and Pensions' New Deal account, which is currently shared by St Luke's and Publicis.

The pitch is being handled by COI Communications and is in its early stages. Four creative agencies have been chosen to compete for the task alongside four media companies, which have been selected to partner them.

Details of the project have yet to emerge and agencies will be briefed on June 7. One component of the brief is expected to revolve around getting the over-50s into employment. A decision is expected within two to three weeks.

When the New Deal was launched in 1998, the government backed the programme with a £12m above-the-line campaign, featuring passionate, flag-waving employers, which was created by St Luke's.

More recently activity has concentrated on the New Deal for Lone Parents, part of a broader initiative, with advertising created by Publicis. The campaign came under scrutiny in a recent episode of Panorama, which proposed that the government was using taxpayers' money to fund advertising which made it look good in the run-up to last year's general election.

It is not yet known if St Luke's or Publicis will be repitching for their respective pieces of business.

St Luke's was appointed to the government's agency roster in August 1997. It then won the £12m three-year New Deal brief in November that year, with the campaign breaking in 1998. The agency's brief was to get 1m people in the initiative's target audience of 18- to 24-year-olds, who had been out of work for more than six months, back into employment.

St Luke's secured the business, administered by the Government's Business Task Force, after a pitch against Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters, TBWA and D'Arcy.

Employers participating in the programme included Coopers & Lybrand, the Alliance & Leicester and Reckitt & Coleman. About 7,000 employers signed up to the deal after one month.

News of the pitch for the New Deal work follows a number of other reviews currently taking place through COI. Both a Work and Pensions brief for payment modernisation, and a pitch for the DVLA highlighting a change in how to apply for road tax, are ongoing.

However, a spokeswoman for COI Communications denied there was a New Deal pitch taking place.

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