Government sets out first annual marketing plan and boosts spend

The Government has revealed its intention to spend £285m on communications for 2012/13 in its first annual "proactive communications plan", which sets out the marketing priorities of Whitehall departments.

Westminster: the government pledges to boost marketing spend
Westminster: the government pledges to boost marketing spend

The publishing of a cross-departmental forward-looking strategy is a key part of the Cabinet Office’s plan to slash the costs of campaigns and encourage collaborative working following the abolition of the COI in April.

The projected spend, £284.8m, is a significant increase on the £168m spent by the COI in 2010/11, the first year of the coalition.

The Cabinet Office indicated that the current year's projected communications spend may rise, saying, "We expect that additional activities will be developed during the year in response to new policy priorities".

However, the 2012/13 figure is dwarfed by the COI spend under the last Labour government which amounted to £532m for 2009/10.

The Cabinet Office strategy pledges to collect "robust" spend figures every month once the agency framework contracts are in place and develop a universal set of metrics common to every hub and campaign.

A new more rigorous standard for evaluation is also laid out as is an ambition to work more with the private and charitable sector on campaigns.

Additionally, the strategy confirmed that a consistent brand for all government departments would be in place by the end of the year. Based on the existing HMG brand, the new look is designed around a lock-up of the Royal Arms and the name of the government organisation.

In the strategy’s foreword, Jenny Grey, the outgoing Government communication executive director, said: "One of the constraints on effective planning has been the lack of collective visibility of individual communications programmes.

"Budgets for communications often sit within programme or policy functions in government and activities can develop in isolation which acts as a barrier to collaboration.

"So there is an opportunity to take a more holistic view of how communication campaigns could dovetail, particularly where there are overlapping audiences and potential channels to reach those audiences."

Whitehall marketers will work together in seven "hubs" – groupings of departments and arm's-length bodies judged to have overlapping objectives.

Hubs and selected priorities

Communities and Local Government; Transport; Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and Energy and Climate Change

  • Preventing road accidents through the THINK! Road Safety campaign
  • Maximising take-up of the Right to Buy amongst eligible social housing tenants
  • Preventing domestic fires through the Fire Kills campaign


  • Social marketing campaigns including tobacco control and Change4Life
  • Protecting people from public health threats
  • Maintaining "business as usual" activity such as supply of blood and organs to the NHS

Work and Pension and HM Revenue and Customs

  • Preparing claimants for the introduction of universal credit
  • Encouraging voluntary disclosure of underpaid tax
  • Reducing the cost of fraud and error across the welfare system

Business, Innovation and Skills; HM Treasury; and Culture, Media and Sport

  • Communicating the government’s macroeconomic strategy
  • Promoting skills and training to increase UK’s international competitiveness
  • Building tourist numbers and spends following the success of Olympics and Diamond Jubilee using the GREAT campaign
  • Creating a regulatory environment that supports the growth of our creative and communications industries

Home Office and Justice

  • Promoting the FRANK drugs information service
  • Making the 101 police non-emergency number top of mind with the public
  • Combating violence against women and girls with a campaign to change attitudes
  • Explaining the creation of the National Crime Agency

Cabinet Office and Department for Education

  • Teacher recruitment
  • Raising awareness of the National Citizen’s Service
  • Increasing "cyber security" through the Safe Online campaign

Foreign Office, Defence and International Development

  • Recruiting for the Armed Services
  • Making the case for aid

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