LONDON: The UK government has relaxed the rules surrounding departmental advertising campaigns so that brands will in future be able to sign exclusive sponsorship deals.

In addition, departments will no longer be required to match funding from partners, so that campaigns can be majority-funded by brands.

A third significant change will see the removal of the need for departments to inform all competitors if a brand proactively approaches them with a strategy. The government believes this will incentivise brands to seek deals when in the past they may have been deterred by having to share their strategy with rivals.

The opportunity for a brand to strike an exclusive deal could give it a competitive advantage over rivals and the new guidelines indicate that any such arrangement will need "senior management and ministerial sign off".

The guidelines further note that "Departments must ensure that they are not limiting the scope or reach that a multiplicity of partners would deliver", which suggests that any exclusive deals are likely to be restricted to those areas where there are fewer options for the choice of partners.

The UK government spent £300m on communications last year, including several co-branded campaigns. These included Asda, the supermarket, working with the Department of Health on anti-obesity ads, while Coca-Cola, the soft drinks giant, ran a designated driver campaign with the Department for Transport.

"Partnerships with organisations in the private and charity sector have produced some of the most creative and powerful government campaigns, and we will do all we can to encourage these collaborations," said Alex Aiken, executive director of the government's communications unit.

"The opportunity for partners is clear: Helping government answer interesting and large-scale communication challenges, and in turn, government can access audiences in new ways," he said.

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