Now the bad news for government office that made us stop and think

For some, it was the voice of the nanny state, hectoring us for our own good with messages such as "Clunk click, every trip!", "It's Thirty for a Reason!" and "Talk to Frank!" But after 65 years of advertising, the Central Office of Information is to be closed down with the loss of about 1,000 jobs. The plan forms part of the Government's programme of reducing its communications budget by £1bn a year.

Yesterday the Cabinet Office released a review by Matt Tee, the permanent secretary for government communication, which said the COI should be replaced by a new and more focused Government Communications Centre. The 15 per cent cut in existing COI staff is expected to save £50m a year.

The COI was formed in 1946 to replace the wartime Ministry of Information. Its concerns were public health and safety and its campaigns have been among the most memorable in British advertising. BBC television and radio presenter Jimmy Savile's "Clunk Click" campaign, to encourage the wearing of seatbelts, shocked audiences in the Seventies by showing a woman being thrown headfirst through a windscreen. "The face you start out with in the morning won't be the same face you end up with by the evening," said Savile.

In 1987 came an ad that was scarier still. Dark and apocalyptic, the Don't Die of Ignorance campaign showed the letters Aids being carved on a tombstone. "If you ignore Aids it could be the death of you," it warned.

They became more subtle. A campaign to prevent the spread of chlamydia depicted the sexually transmitted disease as a pink gremlin. The long running anti-drugs campaign Talk To Frank featured a mummified dog – "Pablo The Drugs Mule" – voiced by the comedian David Mitchell which showed young Britons using the smuggled cocaine that had killed the dog.

Under the Labour government, spending on public information drives, such as the Change4Life anti-obesity campaign, was deemed to be an important way to keep costs down elsewhere in the public sector. But figures released this week showed that COI fell last year from the top-spending British advertiser to the sixth, with an outlay of £105.4m. Yesterday, Mr Tee outlined a new organisation that would have "clearer, more-focused activities" and would be closer aligned to government priorities, rather than those of individual departments. It would also be committed to "good measures of impact or effectiveness".

Tim Lefroy, chief executive of the Advertising Association, said: "It's a thumbs-up for paid communications at the heart of policy delivery. It reaffirms the role of the COI although the name might go."

Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, said: "There is no doubt that public sector advertising saves lives, improves the health of society, and as a result saves money. We are therefore pleased to see that the vital role that the COI plays will continue, albeit under a new name and structure."

Ads that struck hard

Pregnant Man, 1970

One of the most famous poster ads, Saatchi & Saatchi's campaign for the Health Education Council encouraged men to use contraceptives. "Would you be more careful if it was you that got pregnant?"

The Green Cross Code, 1970s

A very British non-flying Superman with a green cross on his back urged children to, "Always Use the Green Cross Code, because I won't be there when you cross the road".

Don't Die of Ignorance, 1987

Made at the height of Aids crisis, this ad for Margaret Thatcher's government scared the life out of Britain as it darkly warned, "If you ignore Aids it could be the death of you".

Suggested Topics
Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Digital Project Manager

£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...

Paid Search Analyst / PPC Analyst

£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week