Public sector braces itself for major ad budget cuts

Marketing budgets are unlikely to escape the Government’s swingeing cuts to public spending, though the Department of Health’s anti-obesity Change4Life drive could escape the worst.

change4life
Change4Life: Escaping the worst?

Chancellor George Osborne is expected to reveal how the new coalition Government will go about making £6bn in economy savings on Monday.

A Tory Party report last month on cuts to non-essential spending highlighted the £564m cost of “external communications and advertising”.

According to the Central Office of Information (COI), the Government’s delivery body for marketing and communications, turnover in 2008/09 hit £540m. Almost half of this was advertising.

The COI, in its annual report, predicted spend would remain “steady” in 2009/10. However, every department is acutely aware of the situation.

The Department of Health, which has one of the biggest marketing budgets, says it “can’t give [details of cuts] yet”. However, it is unlikely that Change4Life will feel the impact deeply. Health secretary Andrew Lansley made a commitment prior to the election to “sustain Change4Life and build on it”.

The campaign’s business partners, such as Nintendo and Kellogg, continue to back the initiative. However, a spokesman for the latter admitted that if spending was cut, then the industry would need “more flexibility” to promote Change4Life through their own sources, such as packaging.

The future of other Government-facing campaigns is less certain. The Tories identified quangos as one area ripe for cuts, which could see pressure mount on the likes of Wrap, the Waste & Resources Action Programme.

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