THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF INFORMATION has increased spending on advertising by one third over the past year and plans a further increase in the future. In the year to March 1999, over £80m will have been spent on government campaigns, including £9m on the ‘New Deal’ jobs initiative, £4.5m encouraging aware-ness among SME’s of the significance of the new European currency, and £22m on promoting working-family tax credits. Future plans include a £50m anti-smoking drive, running over three years. The Government is also investigating possible use of other promotional vehicles including programme sponsorship - even direct funding of programmes which reinforce a campaign message. Says Samantha Mercer, head of sponsorship at the COI: ‘We are looking at sponsorship propositions for government departments. It could involve making a programme about the life of a young recruit in the Army.’ Sponsorship is also likely to be used to promote organ donation and the campaign against drink-driving.