The Central Office of Information has revealed it is to consider pooling
all of the Government’s media buying into a single media specialist.
Such a move would spark a scramble to win the lucrative account, which
is worth about pounds 60 million a year.
At present, the COI retains four media specialists. Leo Burnett provides
centralised radio buying and also monitors press buying, the Media
Centre handles television and Concord is responsible for outdoor.
Regional press buying is carried out by Zenith Media. This account is
currently under review, with Zenith facing rival pitches from BMP DDB,
Lowe Howard-Spink and the Media Centre (Campaign, 15 March).
Peter Buchanan, the COI’s director of advertising, said it would
consider the idea of retaining a single media buyer this year. ‘One
thing we will be looking at is whether those arrangements which have
served us very well in the past will continue to serve us well in the
future,’ he commented. ‘It is on the agenda.’
Buchanan said the COI had always taken the view that its significant
spend in each media category had resulted in it buying its media by
He explained that 46 per cent of the COI’s budget went on press and 42
per cent on television. Although radio accounts for only 4 per cent, the
Government is the biggest spender in the country, Buchanan added.
By contrast, many of the other top private sector spenders concentrate
their budgets in one medium. For example, Procter and Gamble spends more
than 95 per cent of its ad budget on television and Dixons more than 90
per cent on press.
‘Our spend is much more evenly balanced, and we believe different
agencies are good at doing the centralised buying in their own areas,’
However, media companies believe a change of strategy by the Government
is long overdue. They argue that the growth in cross-media ownership
will force the COI’s hand.
A senior executive at one media shop commented: ‘The COI is half
pregnant when it goes into the media market. It is not structured in a
way that maximises the market. All other major advertisers have gone to
a single supplier - and that is no accident. The COI is either
incredibly brave or just incredibly stupid.’