COI calls creative and media review for Directgov site

LONDON - COI Communications is holding a creative and media pitch for its national online initiative Directgov, a rebranded and revamped version of UK Online.

The creative account for UK Online is held by Leo Burnett, where it has been dormant since it was rolled in from D'Arcy in 2002. However, the Government backed UK Online with a spend of £5m when it launched.

It is understood that COI is talking to three creative agencies, which will be paired with media agencies to pitch for the media planning. The pitch is due to take place at the end of April. Grey London is one of the agencies to have been approached. Grey is a COI roster agency but is not appointed to any piece of business at present.

Directgov will provide a one-stop shop for public-service information about government and is intended to be the first destination for people accessing UK government electronically.

The new site was unveiled by the e-envoy, Andrew Pinder, in March and at this stage it is sitting alongside UK Online. It is only accessible via the old site currently but will eventually replace it. A date for this changeover is yet to be given.

It launched with three main areas of information: for parents, motorists and the disabled. More areas will be added towards the end of the year, with up to a dozen in the pipeline including information for householders, jobseekers and adult learners.

A COI spokeswoman said: "We are in preliminary discussions with a number of companies on how they might support the Directgov service. No decisions have yet been made."

The UK Online brand will survive through its network of 2,000 UK Online centres around the country. These encourage people to get online and the plan is to increase the number by 4,000.

UK Online originally launched in February 2001 and relaunched in January 2002. Ogilvy & Mather won the creative brief to get the UK population online, which included promoting the website and the online centres. However, the agency struggled to hold on to the business, losing it to D'Arcy soon after it had won the account.

Separately, Publicis has worked on a number of business-to-business projects for UK Online. In a £20m Department of Trade and Industry initiative to get businesses to use the internet, this service is being folded into two new schemes, headed: "Achieving best practice in business."

The Prime Minister Tony Blair is aiming to have more than 450 government services online by the end of 2005. The government provides 607 services, of which 410 are now e-enabled.

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