NEWS: COI calls on ad industry for advice

Leading figures from the advertising world are to brief officials at the Central Office of Information on how to be more ‘client-friendly’.

Leading figures from the advertising world are to brief officials at the

Central Office of Information on how to be more ‘client-friendly’.



The lunchtime training workshops for COI staff are part of the

organisation’s plans to prevent Whitehall departments breaking away from

the COI to run their own campaigns and to help it win new business from

other public-sector bodies.



The sessions will start next month with an address by Michael Hockney, a

former managing director of Butterfield Day Devito Hockney.



Peter Buchanan, the COI’s director of advertising, said: ‘We want our

people to be aware of the highest account-handling standards in

agencies. The aim is to take their best practices and develop them for

us.



‘The way we approach our clients should be to the same standard as the

agencies. Sometimes we meet that standard, sometimes we don’t. It is

important to try to bring the level up a little bit.’



The move is in line with a Government-ordered report on the COI’s future

by the management consultant, Kinsley Lord. It proposed big changes to

enable the organisation to survive.



The report, accepted by ministers, advised that the COI should

reposition itself as a ‘marketing consultant’ to offer a more integrated

service to Whitehall departments. This is expected to result in the

merger of the COI’s advertising division, which handles campaigns

totalling pounds 60 million a year, and its direct marketing division,

which has a turnover of about pounds 11 million.



Kinsley Lord recommended the COI be streamlined by cutting out

unnecessary paperwork and reducing staff. Whitehall sources believe that

up to 100 of the COI’s 470 jobs could be axed.



The consultant also fired a broadside at the COI’s top brass, saying its

management board had become too distant from its clients.



A shake-up to make COI bosses more ‘hands on’ is expected after the

appointment of a new chief executive to succeed Mike Devereau, who is

retiring (Campaign, 17 May). The Government is advertising the post at a

salary of pounds 75,000 and is thought to be keen to attract someone

from the private sector.



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