DfT entente may cut COI role to ‘centralised negotiator’

The entente-cordiale between the COI and the Department for Transport, announced last week, threatens to reduce the Whitehall advertising body’s role to centralised advertising negotiations, according to informed sources.

The DfT, which rebelled against using the COI to handle its advertising five years ago, has agreed to start accessing the COI’s creative agency framework but on its “own terms.”

Unlike other COI-Departmental-Agency relationships, the terms agreed by the DfT with the COI will mean that the DfT will continue to liaise directly with creative agencies to develop campaigns without any COI involvement. The COI will only reassume its position as the provider of the “central framework” with all the DfT’s roster agencies working under COI contracts. DfT’s roster agencies – Abbott Mead Vickers.BBDO, Leo Burnett Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R – also happen to be COI roster agencies. The only exception is Euro RSCG London, which creates work for Transport Direct, due to come up for pitch in the next fiscal year.

The new arrangement will mean that the DfT will not pay the 15% commission paid by the other departments that use COI’s framework. It has instead negotiated a “very small fixed fee” to be paid to the COI.

Insiders say that the move is likely to prompt other major departments such as the Department of Health and the Home Office – both of which have sizeable advertising budgets and have in the past mooted the idea of bypassing the COI – to use their own marketing and advertising expertise.

Chief executive Alan Bishop spearheaded the reconciliation with the DfT.

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