COI must beware dangers of big brand partnerships

Sky: Partnership potential
Sky: Partnership potential

Any potential partnership between the Central Office of Information and a brand or media owner ( 26 July) would be invaluable to the COI, but it would come at a cost.

The scale and reach of the COI means that it could partner with almost any brand or media owner, such as News Corporation, including Sky and News International, or Vodafone.

Partnerships like these would give the COI access to information on millions of customers, not to mention a rich network of consumers. It’s a ready-made database of information on the habits of the British public.

But joining forces with powerful brands means those brands will want something of substantial value in return. It’s not the same as two well matched brands getting into bed with each other because they have similar aims.

The real price would come in the form of what a media owner would look for in partnership with the COI, be it changes in policy or an influential say on key decisions.

Any partnership would mean the Government having to accept that it is handing over some power to already very potent private businesses; maybe a price that even the COI could ill afford.

If the COI is serious about reducing costs, it will need to delve deep into the wants and desires of potential partners and insist on transparency. Otherwise, it could be a false economy.

Neil Jenkinson,
Marketing director, Dialogue141

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