Editor's comment: A glint of light in CSR gloom
A view from Gareth Jones

Editor's comment: A glint of light in CSR gloom

The collective groan issued by the UK public last week when the government revealed its Comprehensive Spending Review was drowned out only by the sobs from boardrooms across the country.

While George Osborne's plan to save £83bn will have a fundamental impact on consumers and businesses over the next four years, marketers may have the greatest cause for concern.

Against a backdrop of falling consumer spend, marketing practitioners in the public and private sectors alike will have to work even harder to prove their worth. Efficiency, transparency, ROI and other recessionary watchwords will become paramount and the focus of brand chiefs will permanently shift to the bottom line.

Despite this austere boardroom reality, it is the government's decision to slash adspend and all but dismantle the COI that could have the most profound impact on the wider marketing community. Regardless of the Cabinet Office's motives, the hobbling of an organisation that employs about 800 marketers and until last year invested £208m in advertising is unprecedented.

As we explore in this issue, the 40% reduction in COI headcount, dramatic spending cuts and plan to give Whitehall's marketers cross-departmental responsibilities effectively erases marketing as we know it from the government's agenda.

However, the implications for the UK's brand-owners may not be as negative as first feared. If a new government marketing function rises from the ashes of the old - leaner, more accountable and less risk-averse - then the private sector may be dissuaded from adopting pure slash-and-burn tactics in favour of something more considered.

Surely, those taking a more intelligent approach will be the ones who succeed in David Cameron's age of 'economic dynamism'? All that remains is for the coalition government to take the lead.