COI invites more agency pitches

The Central Office of Information (COI) is expecting to hand out an increased number of briefs after it unveiled an enlarged roster of preferred agencies this week.

COI: More campaigns, like this anti-smoking ad, on the way
COI: More campaigns, like this anti-smoking ad, on the way

The roster of 89 agencies includes new players such as Unity and Iris PR, but established agencies Lexis PR and Frank PR are no longer on the list.

The roster is expected to create more demand from government departments, building on the current
£15m annual value of COI PR spend.

Briefs could include recession-fighting campaigns to get the unemployed back to work, following the announcement in the pre-Budget report that the Department for Work and Pensions would spend £1.3bn on helping the jobless.

Agencies that were unsuccessful were philosophical about the result. Kinross + Render CEO Sara Render pointed out that not all public sector contracts go through the COI.

‘We were on the roster for three years and got more public sector clients directly than through the roster,’ said Render. ‘It closes a few doors to wider competition but agencies with a good track record will still find plenty of opportunities.’

Frank MD Andrew Bloch said: ‘The COI hasn’t used Frank’s services at all since we were appointed to its
last roster three years ago, which we presume is the reason that we’re not on it any more.’

Nevertheless, the roster is three times as large as it was in 2004 and the COI hopes it will capitalise on the increasing fragmentation of media channels.

The roster is arranged into eight lots (see right) such as ‘UK’, ‘International’, ‘Sport’, and ‘Nations and regions’ and every agency in each lot will be invited to pitch for a brief.

Agencies are concerned that the new ‘lots’ format will mean increased competition for business.

COI director of news and PR Neil Martinson responded: ‘The new format may create greater competition, but it also ens-ures fairness. Each agency has the choice as to whether they respond to a brief directed to their “lot” by completing a simple pre-qualification questionnaire. Following this initial shortlisting process, COI will typically invite three to four agencies to go to full pitch.’

Selected lots

Number of agencies 32
New faces 3 Monkeys, Unity, Threepipe
Old hands Amazon PR, Band & Brown, Hill & Knowlton

Nations and regions
Number of agencies 47
New faces Corixa Communications, London Communications Agency
Old hands Consolidated PR, Geronimo PR

Number of agencies 8
New faces TVC, Vero
Old hands Hill & Knowlton, Weber Shandwick

Number of agencies 9
New faces Bell Pottinger, Portland PR
Old hands Weber
Shandwick, Euro RSCG
Biss Lancaster

89 Agencies on the new roster

29 Agencies on the 2004 roster

7 Lots featuring Bell Pottinger and Weber Shandwick

65 Agencies on the roster for the first time

5 Agencies dropped from previous roster

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