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UK government shifts marketing focus

News, 06 January 2017

LONDON: A greater proportion of the UK government's marketing efforts will be directed abroad in the year ahead as it looks to reassure investors in the wake of last June's vote to leave the European Union.

"Certainly, there is more of a tilt toward the importance of international marketing, particularly around promoting business," Alex Aiken, the Executive Director for Government Communications, told The Drum.

The most immediately visible demonstration of this, however, is an internal restructuring. "In January, the GREAT Britain campaign will move to the Department of International Trade [from 10 Downing Street]," he explained, "because we felt that it was better placed there as there's a greater emphasis on exporting trade following the decision to leave the European Union."

Brexit means that agencies on the government's "campaigns solutions" roster – 27 were appointed in December – will also be tasked with re-examining how the government approaches its domestic marketing.

"I think some of our emerging conclusions from the current state of politics in this country are around language, proof and locality," said Aiken, as he reflected on a recent pitch that "felt written in SW1" – the Westminster bubble.

"We're trying to make sure that we speak to people in a way that resonates with them," he added.

Such an approach ties in with the requirement for government marketers to measure effectiveness rather than simply reach.

"Around our communications and marketing tables there's a clear view that our purpose is to have a public impact," Aiken stated. "It's not to run the most glamourous campaigns, it's too run the most effective ones."

At the same time, agencies are being given greater freedom to develop campaigns in response to a brief in terms of objective, audience, strategy, presentation and sourcing – a process that "allows us to regularly put problems in front of agencies rather than specific solutions", said Aiken.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff