Government Advertising: Information or Propaganda?



The Central Office of Information (COI) was and remains the channel for the vast bulk of government publicity expenditure. It was established in 1946 to provide a central government agency for the supply of paid-for publicity material, services and advice. It was a peacetime version of the wartime Ministry of Information, shorn of censorship and security duties and with a reduced propaganda commitment overseas.


Advertising Expenditure Television Advertising Constant Prex British Telecom Designer Politics 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Central Office of Information, Annual Report and Accounts 1992–93 (1993).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Digby Anderson, The Megaphone Solution: Government Attempts to Cure Social Problems with Mass Media Campaigns, Social Affairs Unit, 1988.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Sir Fife Clark, Central Office of Information (1970) p. 92.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Figures taken from COI, Client Services, March 1990.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Quoted by Frank Dobson, Hansard, 16 May 1989, vol. 153, no. 106, col. 181.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    National Audit Office, Publicity Services for Government Departments, 1 December 1989, p. 5.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Andrew Grice, ‘Selling Ads to Whitehall’, Campaign, 22 January 1988.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    COI, Annual Accounts, 1989–90.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    The effectiveness of the GLC’s campaign in changing attitudes is chronicled in Robert Waller, Moulding Political Opinion (1988).Google Scholar
  10. 14.
    Marjorie Ogilvy-Webb, The Government Explains (1965).Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    W. Crofts, Coercion or Persuasion? (1989) pp. 229–31.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Committee of Public Accounts, Nineteenth Report, Publicity Services for Government Departments, 1989–90.Google Scholar
  13. 24.
    Bernard Ingham, Kill the Messenger (1991) p. 374.Google Scholar
  14. 25.
    COI, Annual Accounts, 1989–90.Google Scholar
  15. 26.
    COI, Annual Report and Accounts, 1992–3.Google Scholar
  16. 27.
    Lord Young, The Enterprise Years (1990) p. 159.Google Scholar
  17. 41.
    MEAL figures quoted in ‘Privatisation Advertising: A report by Tony Blair MP, Shadow Energy Secretary’, April 1989.Google Scholar
  18. 43.
    Alison Turner, ‘British Gas Flotation: How Advertising Helped Extend Popular Share Ownership’, in Paul Feldwick (ed.), Advertising Works 5 (1990) pp. 310–42.Google Scholar
  19. 53.
    See Michael J. Baker (ed.), The Marketing Book (1991) p. 364.Google Scholar
  20. 54.
    See Peter Hennessy, Whitehall (1990).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Margaret Scammell 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and Communication StudiesUniversity of LiverpoolUK

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