Ministers are set to approve a shake-up of the Government’s media buying
to end the system under which it is split between four different
Roger Freeman, the Cabinet minister responsible for the Central Office
of Information, is expected to give COI bosses the go-ahead to make
sweeping changes to the way its pounds 63 million-a-year advertising
spend is bought.
COI chiefs decided to review its five separate media accounts in the
light of growing cross-media ownership (Campaign, 5 April). At present,
television buying is handled by the Media Centre, radio by Leo Burnett,
which also monitors national press by individual agencies, regional
press by Zenith Media and posters by Concord.
Changes have been recommended by the COI and Paul Brown, an independent
media consultant appointed in July to examine the COI’s media systems.
However, ministerial sources said this week that the proposed shake-up
ould not necessarily mean ‘putting all the eggs in one basket’. Options
could include merging TV and radio into one agency and national and
regional press into another.
The changes would be phased in over the next few years to allow existing
contracts to be honoured.
After winning Freeman’s approval, the COI will consult its clients in
Whitehall departments before going ahead. However, departments are
expected to welcome the move as a way of getting better value from the
COI, to which they pay 1.75 per cent commission on government campaigns.
Ministers hope the proposals will also enable the COI to reduce its
overheads. The organisation is under pressure to double from 50 to 100
the number of jobs it sheds each year. ‘We can kill two birds with one
stone,’ one ministerial source said.
In an interview with Campaign, Tony Douglas, the COI’s new chief
executive, confirmed that a decision was imminent following the media