The British government’s advertising and marketing unit COI Communications is calling a ‘big bang’ review of all the ad, marketing and PR firms which handle its £200 million duties.

COI attributed the wholesale review of its roster to government departments’ increasing preference for through-the-line campaigns, though director of marketing communications Peter Buchanan stressed that smaller agencies lacking such capabilities were still welcome to apply. “We want a spread of different agencies, some large and some small,” he said.

COI normally exploits the lull surrounding a general election to reassess its agency line-up. However, even though the election has been postponed by prime minister Tony Blair, the unit’s chiefs decided to launch the review regardless. Commented Buchanan: “We were ready to go, so we decided to press ahead anyway.”

Interested firms can pitch for either a single piece of government business or for a group of different activities, with applications due in by May 14. COI expects to finalise its new roster by the end of the summer.

In 2000, COI ploughed £113m into advertising on the government’s behalf, plus £35m on promotions and direct marketing, £25m on publications and a further £4m on events.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)