The Department of Health is to take direct control of the campaigns
run by the Health Education Authority in a move that gives yet more
power to the Central Office of Information.
Ministers have decided that all HEA accounts will be handled by the COI.
The takeover has shocked staff at the HEA, who have long argued that
they could buy ads more cheaply than the COI and have resisted previous
moves to put them under its umbrella. Privately, HEA bosses are furious
that they were not given the chance to pitch against the COI.
The change is a boost for the COI but puts a question mark over the
HEA’s future involvement in advertising and a roster review due when
contracts with its agencies expire next March.
HEA accounts include the anti-smoking drive - held by Abbott Mead
Vickers BBDO - on which ministers have promised a pounds 50 million
blitz, and the pounds 2.5 million-a-year anti-drugs campaign, for which
Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters won the Grand Prix at last year’s IPA
The writing was on the wall for the HEA when ministers asked the COI to
handle a review of the Government’s anti-smoking account.
The COI will also now run a drive to reduce teenage pregnancies. A DoH
source said: ’Other HEA campaigns will gradually switch over to the
The shake-up follows the Government’s decision to scrap the HEA from
January and replace it with a Health Development Agency, which will
focus more on research.
The health secretary, Frank Dobson, said: ’One of the reasons we are
going to transform the HEA is because most of the advertising and
campaigning has the biggest impact on the people who are healthiest
already. We have got to turn round the targeting of the campaigns so
that they appeal, catch the eye, and get better results among people who
are badly off.’