Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: The Whitehall Way

Magazine article Marketing

News Analysis: The Whitehall Way

Article excerpt

The practice of brand-backed public information campaigns is on the rise, writes Alex Brownsell.

On first inspection it sounds like a marketing match made in hell: stuffy government departments partnering with irresponsible, scandal-riven corporate brands in the name of public information campaigns.

Yet this form of marketing is rising in popularity with both parties. A plethora of brands has signed up to support the government's anti-obesity drive, Change4Life.

Meanwhile, last month, Fiona Seymour, head of marketing at the Department for Transport, made a direct appeal to car marketers to drive awareness of its energy-labelling system in their dealerships under the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Act On CO2 banner.

So what is the attraction for public and private sector marketers? According to Jane Asscher, managing partner at marketing agency 23Red, the motivation for government marketers is quite simple - campaign messages need to be received when consumers are at their most receptive 'Government is often responsible for the development of a campaign, but not delivering it at grass roots, because it does not have a strong enough voice at the point of purchase and consumption,' she says.

The public sector is also only too aware of its perception problems among consumers, according to Steve Bell, chief executive at partnership marketing specialist Iris. 'The government is keen to borrow the trust that brands have with the customer, and exploit where brands have an influence over the target audience,' he says.

Motivations are far more convoluted on the brand side, however. Rupert Howell, managing director of brand and commercial at ITV, has given a promise that the broadcaster will support the Change4Life campaign to the tune of pounds 40m over four years. Its first programme in support of the activity, The Feelgood Factor, screened on ITV1 last weekend.

'Rather than being seen as part of the problem, brands want to be seen as part of the solution,' says Howell. 'It is all about the power of collective efforts. If you get together, you might have the desired effect. But there is more to this than just corporate social responsibility - if people live longer then they are worth more to brands. …

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