COI speaks louder than any politician

The Conservative Party has said it will slash COI’s marketing spend if it forms our next Government. This, I believe, is nothing more than inexperienced politicians grandstanding. It is an attempt to curry favour with voters who, quite reasonably, don’t have a clue how best to reduce the national deficit.

Nick Hurd, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said the following last December/ “Gordon Brown spends more taxpayers’ money on spin than Tony Blair. Given the ruined state of our public finances, it is no longer sustainable for the Government to be the second biggest advertiser in Britain.”

Hurd has already promised to cut COI’s annual spend from its current £540m to 1997 levels of £111m and recently told Marketing Week that such a cut “may be painful but we need to face the realities of the unsustainable legacy of Government debt.”

If David Cameron and George Osborne find themselves in power come the summer, they will find that relevant, targeted and creative marketing can change the electorate’s behaviour far more cheaply and effectively than most speeches and policies.

“Targeted and creative marketing can change the electorate’s behaviour far more cheaply and effectively than most speeches and policies”

Take COI’s Change4Life programme, which aimed to combat obesity in young people. As our lead news story reports, the campaign beat all of its original trackable targets and is moving on to changing the behaviour of adults (mostly men) aged between 45 and 60.

Change4Life was always more than an integrated advertising campaign. Created by M&C Saatchi and the EHS 4D Group, it became a living, breathing organism with a host of sub-brands and more-than-willing branded partners. Tailored Change4Life materials can now be found in more than 40% of the UK’s schools, GP surgeries and community centres, ensuring the idea surpassed all targets of awareness, logo recognition and, crucially, repsonse and sign-up.

Other examples of great work coming out of COI are numerous. I shudder when imagining almost any of the current breed of politicians trying to talk directly to teenagers on the importance of safe sex. It’s highly unlikely any of them would be as articulate as the “Thmbnls” interactive mobile drama, which digital agency 20:20 London sent to hundred of thousands of teenagers’ phones. That campaign had meaningful impact because it spoke the same language as its audience which it engaged with great content and reached on their chosen platforms. Try achieving that without COI’s expertise Mr Cameron.

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here

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