COI’s move to single supplier framework receives support

Media agencies in debate over whether £211m business is best served by single agency or consortium.

Food for thought: The COI’s recent Change4Life anti-obesity campaign
Food for thought: The COI’s recent Change4Life anti-obesity campaign

Media agencies have welcomed the COI’s move to create a “centralised” framework for its £211m media buying business, but opinions remain divided over whether a single agency or a consortium would best serve the government agency.

The restructure of the framework follows similar moves by companies around the world, including Reckitt Benckiser, Vodafone and Nokia, which are rationalising agency rosters as part of necessary cost cutting measures.

The change of approach is also a result of the need for greater integration in media plans, with the COI moving away from the siloed approach of buying media.

Currently, Carat handles TV and cinema, Starcom handles radio, Mediacom oversees press, digital is with i-Level and out-of-home is bought by Posterscope.

One media agency executive says consolidation is one of the key trends in the market. “It makes perfect sense. Taking a more integrated approach is what is happening across the industry. It makes good financial sense. But it would be one hell of a minefield for the winning agency,” he says.

However, another executive says that a consortium of agencies “would struggle” as it would take longer for the various partners to settle into a workable routine to service the client.

The COI’s decision to create a single supplier framework follows a review of the existing structure by Douglas McArthur, founder of the Radio Advertising Bureau.

Full-service agencies, holding companies and consortia have until 25 September to apply for the contract.

Mark Creighton, managing director of i-Level, says it intends to repitch for the business and will be spending the next couple of weeks talking to potential agency partners.

He argues that a consortium would provide the COI with the best option as its focus is still agencies which are the “best in class” in all the channels it uses.

The latest development comes as the COI revealed that the Government’s marketing and communications spend had jumped 43% to £540m year on year in the 12 months to the end of March.

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