Senior Cabinet Office staffer takes charge of GREAT campaign

Claire Pimm, deputy director for campaigns, insight and evaluation at the Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet Office, has been appointed interim director of the 'GREAT Britain' campaign.

Claire Pimm, interim director, GREAT Britain campaign
Claire Pimm, interim director, GREAT Britain campaign

Confirming the move, Alex Aiken (below), executive director of the Government Communication Service, tweeted: "Claire Pimm will lead the team in the interim period."

Alex Aiken, executive director, Government Communication Service

In his tweet, earlier this month, the government comms chief paid tribute to Conrad Bird, who had been director of the campaign since its launch in 2011 until taking up a new role at the Department for International Trade earlier this year, for "developing, leading and expanding the exceptional @GREATBritain campaign".

Bird (pictured below), who has worked in government for 17 years, was awarded a CBE in 2015 for his services to UK government communications and trade.

'GREAT Britain' is the government's most successful international campaign to date, having helped generate more than £4bn in economic returns to the country and winning more than 50 awards.

Conrad Bird CBE, former director, GREAT Britain campaign


Pimm is a relative newcomer to Whitehall.

After graduating in 1993, she worked as a freelance editor and proofreader before taking up a job as publications and promotions officer at Devon Social Services in 1996.

She went on to join the Royal National Institute for the Blind (now the Royal National Institute of Blind People) in 2000, where she was deputy corporate publishing manager, before moving to mental-health charity Mind in 2002, where she started out as publications manager.

By 2003, after a stint during which she had been acting comms manager alongside her regular job, Pimm was appointed head of comms at the charity. Senior comms roles at the Bliss and Contact a Family charities followed.

Her first government role was in 2012, when she spent a year as head of brand management at the Department of Health.

Pimm then worked for a year as director of comms and engagement at Healthwatch England, followed by a year as a consultant at Engaging Comms.

She returned to government in January 2015, when she was appointed deputy director of comms at the Department for Work and Pensions, before moving to her current role in November 2016.

The search continues

The news that Pimm is to take temporary charge of the government’s highest-profile campaign comes eight months since the job of director, GREAT Britain campaign, was advertised. The post has yet to be filled.

In the candidate pack, Toby Orr, director of comms and marketing at the Department for International Trade (pictured below), said: "I’m looking for a talented leader with a clear vision of how to take the GREAT campaign to the next level after seven successful years."

Toby Orr, director of comms and marketing, Department for International Trade

Executive search agency Veredus was brought in to recruit for the role, and Orr and Aiken were members of the panel that scrutinised applications. Bird was among those who applied for the job.

In the event, nobody was appointed and Bird was later offered the role of director of campaigns and marketing at DIT.

Looking ahead

In the meantime, Pimm said she is "delighted" to be leading the campaign, describing it as "stimulating unprecedented global demand for high-quality British products, our universities and our vibrant tourism sector – underpinning jobs and growth across the whole of the UK".

She said: "Now more than ever it is vitally important that we demonstrate to the world that the UK is open and welcoming by strengthening our relationships with our European neighbours as well as creating new opportunities in markets further afield, paving the way for the UK’s trading relationships after we leave the EU."

Pimm added: "My role is to bring all of our partners – over 20 government departments and hundreds of businesses – together to present the UK under one, GREAT, brand that shows the best of innovation, creativity and the UK’s global outlook."

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