U.K. government puts $105m business in review

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LONDON -- The U.K.'s Central Office of Information, the Government agency that buys publicity services and attempts to sell them to Government departments, is putting out to tender $105m worth of business in a shake-up of its 40- strong agency roster.

The first stage of the review - of media - begins this week. Positions on the creative roster will be re- examined when a general election is called. The latest date for that would be mid-March.

The plan is to centralize media into one purchasing point, "to get better value for money," says Corinne Purton, head of campaign planning at the COI.

Currently national press and magazine, plus cinema, buying is handled by the creative agencies working on the individual accounts. Regional press is with Cordiant-owned Zenith Media, radio buying is with Leo Burnett and TV buying is through The Media Centre, all London-based. The only medium not being centrally bought will be outdoor, dealt with by Concord. The total COI media allocation is split 45% TV, 45% press and 10% the rest.

Purton says the COI is "looking potentially" to reduce the number of agencies on the roster, but she refuses to be more specific.

The ramifications of the overhaul are likely to affect most of the U.K.'s top agencies. The COI roster currently reads like a roll call of big international networks, plus highly regarded U.K. shops.

Pitches are expected to be held late spring, with decisions made by the middle of summer.

Copyright January 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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