COI loses clout in rethink

Home Office plans to reduce its dependence on COI Communications.

The Home Office wants to develop a more arms-length relationship with COI Communications to give it more control over its advertising campaigns.

Home Office officials, who have been reviewing their marketing strategy, have decided not to follow the Department for Transport's lead by breaking away from COI and creating its own roster. It will continue to buy its advertising through the Government's communications body.

However, the Home Office is expected to assume greater control over the management of some of its campaigns while leaving full responsibility for others to COI as at present. The review was prompted by the desire to achieve the best value for money from its adspend.

Home Office officials deny they intend to walk away from COI and describe their proposal as seeking a "lighter touch" regime. As one of the Government's biggest spenders on advertising, the Home Office has a relatively large publicity department with several officials who have experience of dealing directly with agencies.

One Home Office source said: "We are talking about a 'horses for courses' approach. We value COI's expertise and the value for money it delivers on media buying. But we want more flexibility on some campaigns where it would make sense for us to have a more hands-on relationship with agencies rather than do everything though COI."

It is unclear whether the proposed move would result in the Home Office cutting its fees to COI, which normally charges a percentage-rate commission on campaigns.

COI, which works hard to maintain good relations with its clients in Whitehall departments, is thought likely to build in some flexibility into its relationship with the Home Office.