Burnett wins £7m benefit fraud ad account

Leo Burnett has won the Government's Department for Work and Pensions £7 million benefit fraud account after a final shoot-out against J. Walter Thompson.

The pitch, which was overseen by COI Communications, was initially between JWT and the incumbent, D'Arcy. But D'Arcy's parent company, Publicis Groupe, announced last month that the network would be merged into Leo Burnett as part of a global realignment.

Leo Burnett's appointment precedes a massive crackdown on benefit fraud, as the Government looks to slash the £3 billion of public money lost each year. Two-thirds of this is lost through fraud itself, the rest through human error.

The agency's forthcoming campaign, which will launch next year, will warn about the range of punishments facing all offenders. The punishments will include sanctions requiring fraudsters to repay the embezzled sum, plus an additional 30 per cent, and lengthy prison sentences.

The Government's "targeting fraud" campaign to crack down on fraud was first launched through D'Arcy in September last year. One TV spot, which aimed to highlight the fact that benefit fraud denies government money to those needing it most, featured a woman being caught committing benefit fraud.

The politically sensitive brief was examined by the BBC programme Panorama in an investigation into New Labour's significantly increased adspend.

COI is likely to transfer the rest of D'Arcy's existing £33 million business over to Leo Burnett once the agency is fully wound down.

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