COI tightens belt as spend falls

The Central Office of Information (COI) is looking to partner with brands and media owners to help deliver campaigns as it looks to provide the Government services for less money.

DCSF campaign

In line with David Cameron’s “Big Society” plans for a partnership Government, the COI says it will also work with civic groups to cut costs.

The move comes as the Office’ annual report reveals that the previous Labour Government spent £531m on marketing and communications through the COI in 2009/10, down £9m on the previous year. 

Expenditure on advertising accounted for £193m of this total, compared to £211m in 2008/9.

The news that spend decreased last year will be welcomed by the coalition Government, which have vowed to slash marketing spend.

However, it is not known how much individual Government departments spent on campaigns such as the Department of Health’s Change4Life initiative.  

Departmental spending over £25,000 now has to pass strict criteria to be cleared by the Cabinet Office.

Mark Lund, chief executive of the COI says “In our new world of less money, empowered citizens and a government keen to pass power to the individual, it is the way we must go forward”

The COI is also working on a “shared evaluation service” for marketing communications across government to determine return on investment and effectiveness.

Lund adds: “We are living through the most rapid changes ever seen in media as digital comprehensively disrupts traditional methods of communication and behaviour.

“In the public sector we are also facing a period of financial constraint not seen for a generation. That means, in partnership with our clients across government, we have to be continually more innovative to be more effective.”

The COI will also look to use digital media, and the “new opportunities for democratisation and accountability” it brings. It says it is “developing more innovative ways” to use digital channels such as mobile.

The Government has already signalled its intention to draft companies in to help pay for the cost of public health campaigns.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley recently announced that the food and drinks industry would help pay for the anti-obesity initiative Change4Life.

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