Government plots its first central brand strategy

COI: scrapped in favour of a Government Communications Centre
COI: scrapped in favour of a Government Communications Centre

The government is to outline its first cross-departmental marketing strategy under a chief marketing officer-style executive director, as part of the radical reforms proposed in the review of Whitehall communications and the role of the COI published last week.

The proposals, under which up to 1000 communications jobs would be slashed, could also mean the introduction of an annual adspend cap.

In his review, outgoing permanent secretary for government communications Matt Tee recommended the COI be scrapped and replaced by a centralised, 150-strong Government Communication Centre (GCC). Under its aegis, an additional six 'priority theme' teams will be hosted by six departments.

'The themes would represent government priorities, for which there is a clear and important role for communications. A theme may contain campaigns, programmes and contributions from several departments,' the report stated.

Other proposals being considered by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude include a payment-by-results model for agencies, and the creation of a Government Communication Oversight Panel, made up of three industry experts.

A key recommendation is to make better use of digital channels and 'owned assets' such as government websites, which have an estimated media space value of £50m.

The report made no mention of using the BBC to run government ads, an idea that was floated last year by sources at the Cabinet Office.

Controversial plans for a US-style 'ad council' have been scrapped as neither 'workable, nor desirable'. However, the report proposes the establishment of a 'common-good communications council'. This group of agencies, media owners and voluntary organisations would fund government and charity ads as part of the 'Big society' drive.

The government plans to establish the GCC this year and move marketers from individual departments in 2012/13. However, one well-placed source said departments may push Maude to speed up the process to 'avoid policy drift'.

The source added that the cuts were 'pretty ruthless', saying: 'I don't think that government marketers have processed that this will mean the loss of one in four jobs.'

Despite this, advertiser body ISBA is 'upbeat' about the report. Its public affairs director, Ian Twinn, said: 'Advertisers will be supportive of a Government Communications Centre taking on the functions of the COI along with new roles the government wants to develop.'

IN MY VIEW: EXPERT COMMENT - Laura Bayford, Director, Verdant Consulting

Many core government programmes are about influencing attitudes and behaviour. In most cases this will mean long-term campaigns across a wide range of media, often to mass audiences. This is both time-consuming and complex, and requires high levels of creativity and a range of delivery partners. There should be less reliance on traditional media, but large-scale campaigns need a range of channels - you can't rely solely on the web.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer