COI Communications, the interface between the British government and its official advertising and marketing agencies, has been given the bum’s rush by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions – the ministry responsible for many of the government’s most prominent ad campaigns.

DTLR, the fiefdom of accident-prone minister Stephen (Railtrack) Byers, plans to go it alone and set up its own roster of creative and media agencies – not only a snub to the COI but a body blow to the agencies currently servicing the account. These include Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, D'Arcy, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and MediaVest, all of which must now pitch direct to DTLR for inclusion on its register.

COI chief executive Carol Fisher is playing it cool, saying only: “Clients are entitled to do this. We're not a monopoly service but, clearly, the DTLR will have to demonstrate best value to the taxpayer, as we do.”

IPA president Bruce Haines is less diplomatic: “As COI has gone through a very exhaustive tender process so recently, it's a bit rich for a major government department to then tender again – and include those agencies that have already been approved.”

But, claims DTLR head of communications Charles Skinner: “This is the only way to thoroughly test the best means of providing services. He adds, apparently without a trace of irony: “Agencies who have spoken to me have been supportive of it.”

News source: CampaignLive (UK)