Some reports estimate it is worth £50m, although given the current cutbacks in government adspend – as well as the demise of the COI – sources claim it could be a tiny fraction of that figure.
It is understood up to 30 agencies were invited to a briefing last week. Fifteen have been shortlisted and five will be invited for a creative presentation.
The DoH is pushing ahead with its own review of suppliers, despite Cabinet Office plans to release a tender for agencies in the post-COI era.
A spokesman said the appointment of a single agency to handle direct and digital activity would create efficiencies and make it easier to get its messages across.
A number of direct agencies have worked on DoH business in the past, including Kitcatt Nohr Digitas (‘Minging teeth’ campaign, pictured), OgilvyOne, Partners Andrews Aldridge, EHS 4D, CMW, and Iris.
Government adspend slumped from £250m a year before the last election to about £48m in the Coalition’s first year, when all non-essential campaigns were halted. The budget rose to £77m in the 2011-12 financial year, and with budgets now frozen it could stay at that level for the foreseeable future.
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