Government reveals marketing structure ahead of COI closure

The Government’s plans for the future structure of its marketing and communications operations will see seven marketing hubs created.

Parliament

The changes come as it prepares to officially close the Central Office of Information (COI) after 66 years.

The hubs consist of related departments with shared marketing needs and have been established in a bid to co-ordinate marketing activity.

The seven hubs are:

  • Business Innovation and Skills, the Treasury, Culture Media and Sport and their respective arms length bodies (ALB).
  • Department of Work and Pensions, HMRC and ALB.
  • Department of Health and ALB.
  • Home Office, Ministry of Justice and ALB.
  • Cabinet Office, Department for Education and ALB.
  • DEFRA, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Department for Communities and Local Government, Department for Transport and ALB.
  • Ministry of Defence , Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department For International Development and ALB.

Separately, a Government Communications Centre (GCC) operating from the Cabinet Office will take on many of the functions and shared services previously handled by the COI from next Monday (2 April). It will handle strategic planning and activity launched centrally in line with government priorities. It will also offer media monitoring and media planning and buying services for Whitehall departments.

The decision to axe the COI was taken in June last year. after the government’s marketing budget was slashed to help cut the deficit.

Jenny Grey, executive director of government communication, says the changes are not just about cost-cutting and will lead to more efficient campaigns.

“Saving money is important in the current fiscal situation. Spending on communication has gone down significantly. But ministers were surprised that there was not more planning on a cross government basis and the COI did not have a mandate to do that. No one was making sure things were done coherently and in a co-ordinated way for all audiences.”

Several COI executives have joined Grey to work in the GCC. Former group client director Wendy Procter will lead the shared services team, while Sean Larkins, formally deputy director of strategic consulting, will oversee policy and capability.

In total, about 126 former COI staff have been redeployed, mostly within the GCC.

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