EDITORIAL: Fisher faces hard times as she seizes COI helm

As the new chief executive for the Central Office of Information, Carol Fisher takes on the most formidable challenge of an already eventful marketing career.

As the new chief executive for the Central Office of Information,

Carol Fisher takes on the most formidable challenge of an already

eventful marketing career.



The body overseeing the Government’s advertising and PR is housed in a

barrack block-styled building in an unattractive area of London SE1.



Its location - and its generally modest pay cheques - do nothing to help

raise its staffers’ self-esteem.



Keeping up morale will have to be a high priority for Fisher as well as

subtle managerial issues like establishing a good working relationship

with the well-regarded Peter Buchanan, her director of advertising, who

was a candidate for her job.



Coming from a ’can do’ background of fast reaction times and short lines

of communication, the former CLT Radio, Grand Metropolitan and Holsten

senior marketer will find it difficult adapting to what is an outpost of

the Civil Service. What’s more, it is one that continually has to

justify its existence to sceptical ministers not entirely convinced that

it wouldn’t be cheaper and more efficient for government departments to

handle their own promotion.



The Health Education Authority, grand prix winner at last year’s IPA

Effectiveness Awards, is among those which have led the way in bypassing

the COI to work directly with an agency.



Fisher’s predecessor, Tony Douglas, the former DMB&B joint chairman,

signalled a change at the COI because he didn’t have a Civil Service

background.



Douglas set the COI on a more aggressive marketing path and it is vital

that Fisher should be allowed to continue along the same route. For the

fact is that while some departments have the expertise to deal directly

with agencies - and resent paying the COI to manage their advertising

for them - by no means all do.



Not only does the COI still possess massive media buying clout but it

continues to be a repository of enormous advertising expertise which

commands the respect of agencies. It’s a partnership that produces some

of the world’s best public service advertising.



The COI has never been leaner and fitter. Fisher must ensure it stays

that way.



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