Government overhauls marketing department to create single comms budget

The Government is changing how its spends money on marketing, moving to a single marcomms budget and considering changing its structure so that marketers work in hubs rather than single teams responsible for one department.

10 Downing Street.

The changes were announced as part of the Government’s spending review yesterday (25 November). Speaking to Marketing Week Alex Aiken, the executive director of government communications, said the aim is to ensure campaigns are better joined up and money spent more efficiently.

This year the Government will spend around £300m on marketing across 80 campaigns. At the moment individual departments are responsible for how they maintain and commit their budgets although spending controls mean all communications are reviewed prior to being approved.

From 2016/17, all departments will have to bid for funding for marketing campaigns from a centralised pot. The aim is to concentrate resources on only essential expenditure and campaigns that align with the Government’s priorites and can provide return on investment.

“All government departments will have to think more carefully about their marketing priorities and directors of communications sit down and discuss their priorities collectively,” explained Aiken.

“We will aggregate marketing spend and look at proposed campaign from the point-of-view of the audience and measure that against the priorities of the Government.”

In practice that means, for example, that if the Home Office is working on a teenage abuse campaign it will need to work with the Department for Work and Pensions, launching joint campaigns to reach that audience.

Aiken said that might lead to the creation of marketing hubs, with marketers working across disciplines rather than in departments.

The overhaul is expected to lead to a reduction in marketing spend, although Aiken said that “would not be significant”. Savings will also come from the Government’s increased focus on digital marketing.

The Government has also said it will increase funding for the “GREAT” campaign from £45m this year to £60m next. Aiken said the fact that six departments and their agencies all worked together on the campaign was part of the reason for its success, alongside its “absolute focus” on its objective of boosting trade and tourism for Britain.