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.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here