HM Government Communication Service : advertising & marketing assignments

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Selected UK Government advertising

The UK Government's public service and other marketing has been overseen since January 2014 by the Government Communication Service, a non-political civil service department that is an arm of the Cabinet Office. Previously, for more than 65 years, government communications fell under the control of COI, or Central Office of Information as it was once known. This acted as the client on behalf of governmental departments to coordinate largescale marketing initiatives and liaise with advertising agencies. However, advertising expenditure increased dramatically under Labour government in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the result that the COI had become the country's highest-spending marketer by 2009. David Cameron's Coalition Government was quick to announce drastic cutbacks in spend, followed by a review of its marketing decision-making process. As a result, the COI was shut down in 2012, with much of the client-side decision-making handed back to individual departments' own marketing and communications directors. COI was replaced by a new and much smaller board of oversight, as well as a centralised procurement organisation. Originally the Government Communication Network, it adopted its current name in 2014. Alex Aiken is executive director of GCS. Purchasing is made through a centralised Crown Commercial Service (CCS) department which handles all government expenditure. Total approved expenditure on marketing for the year to March 2019 is £300m. Government departments are required to select agencies from two specific rosters of agencies who are approved for assignments. The latest rosters, published in 2017 and valid until 2021, include around 27 separate agencies for major "campaign solutions" worth £100k or more and a further 66 for smaller campaigns.

Capsule checked 23rd October 2018

Which agencies handle advertising for GCS? Find out more from the Adbrands Account Assignments database

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Adbrands Account Assignments track account management for the world's leading brands and companies, including details of which advertising agency handles which accounts in which countries for major markets.

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Social Media 24th Jan 2019: "NHS 111".  I think we've all been in this situation at one time or another. M&C Saatchi's first campaign for the NHS is this comedy promo for phone support service 111 which aims to take some of the pressure off accident & emergency departments and GP practices. If you've ever used it yourself, you probably know it works quite efficiently. M&C give human form to all those competing voices in your head that can't decide if that odd feeling you have is nothing at all or something really serious.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2017: Ads of the Week: "Pink Kittens". Quite a different approach in AMV BBDO's latest for the Department for Transport's Think! road safety campaign. It lacks the hard edge that has distinguished the best work under this banner, but gets the point across well. We'd argue that there are so many distractions on this particular journey that any driver would have difficulty keeping their eyes on the road. The soundtrack, by the way, is indeed a version of celebrated indie artist Aphex Twin's Windowlicker, the first time he has allowed his music to be used in an ad.

Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Mar 2017: Ads of the Week: "Phenomenal Woman". Great work from FCB Inferno in London in this follow-up to their Cannes Health Grand Prix-winning This Girl Can spot, for the government's Sport England campaign. You don't have to be a girl or a super-fit athlete to find this film joyously uplifting. The whole point is to get Miss Ordinary of any body shape and size up and off her couch and into playing some sport. Maya Angelou's poem Phenomenal Woman provides a very fitting accompaniment. Phenomenal indeed.

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Dec 2015: Ads of the Week: "In The Doghouse #ButAlive". A different sort of seasonal reminder come in AMV BBDO's broadside for the UK Government's Think! anti-drink driving campaign. Unlike most previous ads on the theme, this uses humour to illustrate the simple challenge facing us all over the holiday season. Better to be in trouble with your partner (or with your boss in an alternative spot over on our Facebook page) than to have one too many and become the victim of a road accident.

Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Oct 2015: The Crown Commercial Service, which oversees all UK Government advertising, has announced a review of its creative roster, according to Campaign this morning. There are at present ten "approved" agencies on the roster, from whom individual government departments may commission work. They are AMV BBDO, DLKW Lowe, Engine/WCRS, George & Dragon, FCB Inferno, Kindred, M&C Saatchi, McCann, Ogilvy and RKCR/Y&R. However controversy attended the selection of that list in 2013 when several other agencies who had produced award-winning public service campaigns were de-selected, among them Leo Burnett London, Dare and Adam&Eve DDB. CCS said the new review was designed to ensure that its "commercial models are able to adapt and flex". Pitches will take place next year.

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