COI setback as Home Office seeks single media agency

COI Communications’ relationship with the Home Office has been buffeted by the government department’s decision to appoint a single shop to oversee media strategy.

The move is expected to lead to other large government departments, such as the Cabinet Office and Department of Health, seeking similar strategic arrangements, effectively diminishing the COI’s power.

The Home Office has invited a number of undisclosed agencies to pitch for a strategic planning brief, thought to be worth more than £10m.

It is believed to be the first time the Home Office has pooled its strategic communications business. A spokeswoman says: “It is not a departure for us, but will give us a more strategic and over-arching approach for our communications planning.” It is thought that the winning media agency will be tasked with devising a planning strategy for the Home Office, whose burgeoning portfolio includes crime and policing, immigration, the UK Passport Service, as well as a number of ad hoc information campaigns.

The move comes two years after the Home Office mooted plans to split from the COI as it sought ‘better value’ for its advertising budget (MW April 7, 2005). However, subsequent talks between COI chief executive Alan Bishop and Whitehall convinced the department that the existing arrangement with the COI remained the best way to deliver media value.

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