NEWS25 May 2010

UK government to halve ad spend this year

Government UK

UK— More than £6bn in spending cuts were announced by the UK government yesterday, with £160m set to come from a freeze on all new advertising and marketing spend.


A Cabinet Office spokesman said the coalition government was “looking to reduce government ad spending by 50%” in the current financial year, but it’s not clear whether advertising research spending by the government will be similarly affected.

The £160m equates to around half the Central Office of Information’s annual spend on advertising, direct and relationship marketing and digital marketing (as reported in 2008/09 ) – although the COI does not account for all government communications programmes.

Its research budget was £29m at the last count, though total government spend on communications, policy and social research projects is larger. Again, at this stage, it is not known to what extent research spend will be affected by cuts to the budgets of individual departments.

Martin Boon, ICM’s head of social and government research division, said the cuts that have been announced “are deeply worrying for the research industry across the board”.

“If advertising spend drops this significantly, inevitably there’ll be an associated impact on advertising research spend – buts there’s more to it than this,” he said. “Other sectors across the public sector are seeing their budgets slashed and we’ve already seen one commissioned project come under threat. We can hold onto the hope that research is so ingrained within the public sector that many departments can’t do without it, but the warnings are clear – this may only be the start and research could be an easy target.”