The 'Get ready for Brexit' campaign, which Michael Gove boasted would be "one of the biggest peacetime public information campaigns this country has seen", was launched at the start of September.
It was supposed to encourage Britons to prepare for the UK's departure from the European Union on 31 October, with ads running across TV, newspapers, social media, billboards and other platforms.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster @MichaelGove has launched the new 'Get Ready For Brexit' campaign. Find out what you need to do to get ready for 31 October at https://t.co/4AnRTPHzBo pic.twitter.com/9NoZEMcqc1— Cabinet Office (@cabinetofficeuk) September 1, 2019
Yet Cabinet Office figures released last week show that just £4.6m was spent on the campaign in September.
"Get ready for Brexit"... or not.— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) October 28, 2019
No 10 confirms the advertising campaign to prepare for Brexit on Oct 31st has been pulled. pic.twitter.com/muAhKyh40U
PRWeek understands that the campaign remains paused and may be scrapped altogether, depending on the outcome of next month's general election.
Engine is responsible for the campaign creative, with Wavemaker undertaking media planning and Manning Gottlieb OMD handling media buying.
Cabinet Office concerns
The effectiveness of the campaign has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks. The National Audit Office warned last month that it may have "limited impact", and last week Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, questioned whether the campaign "is actually delivering any tangible benefits".
My mornings have improved considerably since they pulled those "Get Ready For Brexit on October 31st" adverts, can now wait on the subway without the sight of the walls inducing pure anger ???? and it’s even sweeter today ?? #HappyHalloween— Rachael (@RachaeIMiller) October 31, 2019
In a letter to Hillier, published last week, John Manzoni, chief executive of the Civil Service, revealed that the Cabinet Office convened an "EU Exit Campaign Assurance Panel in August 2019".
He said the panel "is comprised of senior marketeers to provide professional oversight and challenge to the campaign".
It is chaired by Karen Blackett, UK country manager at WPP, and a non-executive board member at the Cabinet Office.
In addition, a "Brexit comms hub finance committee", made up of directors of communication from across Whitehall, provides "strategic oversight of our financial and operational plans to ensure campaign budgets are justified and resources are rationally allocated", according to Manzoni's letter.
The Government has also asked marketing analytics consultancy Ebiquity "to provide a deep dive into our activity before we purchase media space" for the 'Get ready for Brexit' campaign, he said.
Click here to subscribe to the FREE public sector bulletin to receive dedicated public sector news, features and comment straight to your inbox.
Make sure you register for the site to access more than one story per month.
To submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the public sector bulletin, email Ian.Griggs@haymarket.com