In the past few weeks we have seen several high-profile and high media-spend ad campaigns from Whitehall departments. These tackle a range of issues, from drugs to the image of social workers, to what we can all do to tackle climate change. (The fact that some of these happened to air during the Tory conference may just be coincidence).
Although this does not mean spending tax-payers' money on communications is the right thing to do, the Labour party has been the ad man's friend. The millions of pounds it has invested have helped many agencies stay afloat, particularly in a very difficult financial year. If it loses the election next year, this could all change.
For the past two years the Conservatives have made it clear that, should they get in, they will cut the COI's budget. While, the department should not be held solely responsible for the vast sums poured into government advertising, there may be a case for more robust assurance from the COI that every pound spent on media works as hard as possible. This is some-thing that its new chief executive, Mark Lund, is said to be tackling. Insiders are speculating that he may cut back on the number of agencies the COI uses, while media planning could be taken in-house - there is certainly no reason why such a big organisation should not have that capability.
Will the Tories really make those cuts they are promising? Perhaps for the first couple of years in power we may see a dip in government adspend, but when the following election looms, they may find a way to release more money for campaigns. Anyone who has worked at the COI will tell you that once a party is in power, advertising becomes a tempting option. After all, it is a visible way for a government to demonstrate it is doing something