Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) and i-level Group announce the formation of a bespoke partnership with immediate effect, to pitch for the media buying services assignment for the Central Office of Information (COI). The pitch brief for the COI account and its government and public sector clients, revealed on 27 July, is a statutory review with the aim of establishing a centralised media buying framework with full integration across all media platforms and channels. The account is currently divided between six media buying contracts covering Cinema, Interactive/Online, Outdoor, Press, Radio and TV media. The COI spent a total of £211m on media and £40m on online advertising during 2008/9 [Source: COI annual report and accounts].

The new SMG/i-level partnership represents a unique collaboration offering a customised media planning and buying operation across all media disciplines. It will combine the buying power of two of the largest UK media organisations, with the agility of a bespoke, specialist and dedicated team. It is solely set up for the COI brief.

Stewart Easterbrook, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group said: “We absolutely believe this partnership offers the COI an innovative and powerful solution in the consolidation of their media buying assignment. Our proven buying capabilities across their business, combined with the like-minded business ethos we share with i-level will mean we work together to deliver the most effective possible solution. We are very excited about this prospect”.

Stephen Rust, Group CEO, i-level said: “We are delighted to have created a new model in order to answer the COI’s brief, and therefore enable the COI to deliver effectiveness and efficiency to its clients going forward. Our partnership with SMG is borne out of the strength of the existing relationships the two agencies have with the COI; this combined with our compatible, common strategic approach and our experience in our respective fields is, we feel, a potent and compelling solution for the COI.”

i-level has worked with the COI since 2000. In 2003, i-level was appointed to handle the centralised digital media planning and buying account as the COI, in an innovative move, was one of the first advertisers to introduce centralised strategic media buying at that time. SMG has held the radio buying account since 2005; and previously held both the press and TV assignments.

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Published on: 12:40PM on 3rd September 2009