Advisory body to urge major government ad budget cuts

A new body set up to examine the effectiveness of Government marketing is to recommend a major reduction in advertising spend, particularly television advertising.

The Government Strategic Marketing Advisory Board (GSMAB), set up last week by the Cabinet Office to replace the Advisory Committee on Advertising, has a remit to ensure that taxpayers get value for money.

The board comprises heavyweight marketers such as Amanda Mackenzie from British Gas and BT’s Tim Evans, and it will be chaired by former Argos marketer John Mayhead. It will scrutinise Government marketing strategy at its first meeting on February 26.

It is already talking about cutting costs of some of COI’s most high-profile campaigns, including those dealing with smoking and climate change.

In an exclusive interview, John Mayhead points to climate change and anti-smoking campaigns as being “especially costly” for the Government. He says: “What can we learn about those? The issue to me is that the Government is now spending significant amounts of taxpayers’ money on advertising. Overall the main broadcast media advertising is costing more than any other media. ”

In 2006, COI spent just over £136m on advertising overall, down by almost 20% on the previous year.

The new board will also look at providing an independent validation of strategic marketing across government departments and will assess the effectiveness, transparency and efficiency of COI’s contribution.

Mayhead adds: “We are starting to look at elements such as briefing agencies and trying to get an element of ‘best practice’ and consistency which will benefit agencies.

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