Proposed Government spending cuts could squeeze DM

Even before the obligatory standing ovation that followed Gordon Brown’s rallying call at The Labour Party conference had faded to a clap, pundits and opponents were already questioning how exactly the Prime Minister intended to pay for the raft of new initiatives unveiled.

Russell Parsons

Attention immediately turned to where cuts might be made to free up cash to pay for the new initiatives with one television journalist confidently predicting that advertising budgets could well be slashed.

Timely then the news the Central Office of Information (COI) is inviting tenders from analytics service providers to provide insight to help boost the efficiency and effectiveness of direct and all other marketing campaigns, and, crucially, provide the taxpayer with better value for their money.

With the Government perhaps poised to trim public spending and the Tories preparing to wield the axe if they are voted into power, direct marketing agencies on the COI roster might expect to have their campaign concepts crunched, analysed and questioned more in the coming months and years.

Despite the spectre of increased scrutiny and the likelihood the COI will become a political football to be kicked around in the run up to the election next year, it is worth pointing out the worthwhile work marketing can do.

The COI this week appointed CMW to handle direct marketing for the Department of Health’s Healthy Start scheme, which offers pregnant women and mothers of young children from families on means-tested benefits vouchers worth £3.10 each week that can then be redeemed against fruit, vegetables, milk and instant formula milk.

A review of the initial launch of the scheme found an 80% take up rate, which CMW will aim to increase further with targeted voucher mail-outs.

A campaign accounting for a tiny fraction of the £500m or more the COI spent last year but a reminder to politicians ready to demonise marketing as an unnecessary and unaffordable luxury that campaigns can affect valuable change.

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