NEWS: COI considers centralising media

The Central Office of Information has revealed it is to consider pooling all of the Government’s media buying into a single media specialist.

The Central Office of Information has revealed it is to consider pooling

all of the Government’s media buying into a single media specialist.



Such a move would spark a scramble to win the lucrative account, which

is worth about pounds 60 million a year.



At present, the COI retains four media specialists. Leo Burnett provides

centralised radio buying and also monitors press buying, the Media

Centre handles television and Concord is responsible for outdoor.



Regional press buying is carried out by Zenith Media. This account is

currently under review, with Zenith facing rival pitches from BMP DDB,

Lowe Howard-Spink and the Media Centre (Campaign, 15 March).



Peter Buchanan, the COI’s director of advertising, said it would

consider the idea of retaining a single media buyer this year. ‘One

thing we will be looking at is whether those arrangements which have

served us very well in the past will continue to serve us well in the

future,’ he commented. ‘It is on the agenda.’



Buchanan said the COI had always taken the view that its significant

spend in each media category had resulted in it buying its media by

sector.



He explained that 46 per cent of the COI’s budget went on press and 42

per cent on television. Although radio accounts for only 4 per cent, the

Government is the biggest spender in the country, Buchanan added.



By contrast, many of the other top private sector spenders concentrate

their budgets in one medium. For example, Procter and Gamble spends more

than 95 per cent of its ad budget on television and Dixons more than 90

per cent on press.



‘Our spend is much more evenly balanced, and we believe different

agencies are good at doing the centralised buying in their own areas,’

Buchanan explained.



However, media companies believe a change of strategy by the Government

is long overdue. They argue that the growth in cross-media ownership

will force the COI’s hand.



A senior executive at one media shop commented: ‘The COI is half

pregnant when it goes into the media market. It is not structured in a

way that maximises the market. All other major advertisers have gone to

a single supplier - and that is no accident. The COI is either

incredibly brave or just incredibly stupid.’



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