The Central Office of Information has fired the starting gun on a
statutory review of its pounds 6 million regional press buying account,
held by Zenith Media for five years.
The COI has drawn up a shortlist including BMP DDB Needham, Lowe Howard-
Spink, the Media Centre and the incumbent.
The task involves implementational media planning and buying for any
government department that wishes to use the regional press. Strategic
media planning lies with the different creative agencies on the COI
The review gives the COI a timely opportunity to re-establish itself on
the public stage as the central power behind government advertising.
As of January, the COI’s monopoly on buying advertising for government
departments was ended following pressure from the Deputy Prime
Minister, Michael Heseltine. Individual Whitehall departments now have
the right to approach agencies direct, although none has yet taken up
All COI buying is currently centralised by media sector, with TV buying
going through the Media Centre, radio through Leo Burnett, which also
monitors national press buying, and outdoor through Concord.
The COI’s director of advertising, Peter Buchanan, the executive in
charge of the regional press, Karen Pearce, and the chief executive of
Zenith, Christine Walker, were all unavailable as Campaign went to