Government ad spend set to increase to over 150m

The Government is expected to reveal a 15m hike in its annual advertising spend, breaking the 150m barrier and cementing is position as one of the UKs biggest advertisers.

The Government is expected to reveal a £15m hike in its annual advertising spend, breaking the £150m barrier and cementing is position as one of the UK’s biggest advertisers.

It is expected to become the second largest advertiser after Procter & Gamble – a slot most recently occupied by Unilever.

The figures will be presented to Parliament today (Wednesday), ahead of the department’s annual report. It is thought that in the year to April 2008, COI spent over 10% more on advertising than in the same period a year earlier.

It marks a U-turn for the department, which last year reported a 12% cut in traditional advertising spend, to take it from £154.7m in 2005 to £135.9m. It said at the time that the cuts mirrored trends in the wider industry.

The COI is also expected to report a second “significant” increase in its digital media spend tomorrow. Last year, it grew 85% from £12.1m to £22.5m. In 2003/04, the department spent just £3m on digital media.

The department has consistently been one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, and the figures are expected to confirm the increased spend noted by Nielsen Media Research in its figures for 2007, published in February.

During the year, COI raised its spend by 9% to £149.5m, second only to Procter & Gamble, which hiked its above-the-line by 13% to £203m. Meanwhile, Unilever spent £142m, making it third with BSkyB, which upped its spend from 58% to £115m as it battled the launch of rival Virgin Media, which was fourth.

The Nielsen figures tally spend from January to December, rather than the April to March of the COI’s financial year, and tomorrow’s presentation is expected to show its spend on traditional media has risen further.

Activity over the 2007/8 year include the Government’s biggest single advertising push with a £10m campaign aimed at tackling problem drinking. It marked the first time that government spend on an anti-alcohol initiative matched that for anti-smoking or drugs.

It also spends many millions on the “Know Your Limits” campaign, which uses shocking images of people involved in alcohol-induced accidents as a result of drinking.

The Government’s spending is expected to rise yet further next year, with big budget initiatives such as a £75m, three-year anti-obesity drive, to be created by M&C Saatchi.

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