LONDON: The UK Government's spending on marketing in the coming year will include a shift towards digital communications and a greater emphasis on evaluation, the executive director of Government Communications has said.

The Government plans to spend £237m on marcomms activity in the coming year on campaigns, including ongoing campaigns for Armed Forces recruitment, road safety and the anti-obesity Change4Life initiative, as well as raising awareness of workplace pensions and activity to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Announcing the plans, Alex Aiken said that central government marketing functions did not "pay enough attention to metrics", a situation he hoped to change.

And he indicated to Marketing that there would be a move away from "from a tendency towards broadcast to more sophisticated digital communication".

In part, there was a cost-factor involved. "We said to people presenting a £10m campaign to us, we think you can do this for £9m if you employ more digital communications and did less broadcasting at audiences," he said.

This approach – "lots of small savings" – had led to some £40m being shaved off the proposed £285m budget.

He explained that the process that approved marketing campaigns was self-selective, in that people were not going to bring forward campaign projects they knew would be refused.

"Occasionally, we would say that we're not satisfied with the project, but the department has a need to fulfil it so we go away and work with them," he said. "So £5m might become £4m or £3m but we don't just tend to say 'no'," he added.

He also stated that there would also be a shift away from strategic communications.

"I need communicators to be hands-on," he said. "I feel that we haven't got enough skills in managing campaigns and I want to place an emphasis on public relations in the widest sense."

The UK Government has also indicated a willingness to strike exclusive partnership deals with brands.

Data sourced from Marketing, Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff