COI’s new chief exec revealed

So yesterday we finally found out who is to succeed Alan Bishop as COI’s Chief Executive. And the winner is … Mark Lund, who is currently CEO of Delaney Lund Knox Warren (DLKW) and Chairman of the Advertising Association.

I confess I don’t know Mr Lund and so have no personal opinion to make on the appointment. What’s been interesting is to track what the reaction has been, both in the official trade press such as Brand Republic, the mainstream press like Media Guardian, and of coure the 140-character reactions over on Twitter. And the reaction has been universally positive, with people falling them over themselves to say how good Mr Lund is, what a nice bloke and generally how lucky COI is to have him; brand expert Mark Gordon even twittered “thoroughly pleased to see Mark Lund at the helm of the COI. A decent and urbane chap.” Can ask for nicer words from a peer, really.

All of which is great news for those of us at COI: the installation of new Chief Executives are inevitably a slightly nervous time for any organisation, and can all too easily be botched with dreadful consequences. But it looks as though Mark Lund is more than up to the not-easy task of filling the highly-regarded Alan Bishop’s shoes.

If I’m honest, my one concern when I read the press announcement was that – according to the various profiles of his career – Mr Lund didn’t seem to have any background in digital and appeared to be almost exclusively an advertising man. That made me uneasy about where COI might go.

Contrary to common opinion, COI isn’t just the government’s advertising agency – a lot of our work these days is in research, strategic consultancy, call centres, live events and of course the whole range of digital engagement activity. When he arrived in 2002, Alan Bishop was also from adland (he came to COI from his previous post of UK chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi) – but back then digital wasn’t quite as developed and important of course, being in the aftermath of the implosion of the IT bubble when many people were declaring the internet dead and buried. But even so, Mr Bishop had a long and steep learning curve to get up to speed not just with digital but all the many disparate parts of COI that don’t fit in the traditional advertising campaign model.

Fast forward, and in 2009 a new COI Chief Executive simply doesn’t have time to take a couple of years getting to know digital, especially with the announcement on Monday that the Government is recruiting a Director of Digital Engagement – a senior post that will have a profound effect on COI’s work as well as that of everyone else in government communications. If COI isn’t fully on the pace on digital right away then we run the risk of being left behind in the dust.

Fortunately my concerns about Mark Lund’s digital credentials have been allayed by today’s follow-up stories in which he singles out digital media as being a key priority when he takes over:

“COI is clearly an organisation in positive momentum and I want to push that momentum further. I think the key within this is stimulating the whole area of digital engagement between government and citizen and, to do this, COI has to build on what it already does well in using digital channels imaginatively as a seamless part of the whole communications mix.”

A CEO with big plans and a passion for digital heading COI? Now that’s the kind of news I was hoping for from the start, when we were waiting to find out who would be appointed. My spirits are considerably lifted today and I’m starting to get excited by what we could do online in the coming years with such positive drivers. The only downside now seems to be that Mr Lund won’t be able to be in post until June, which seems like an awfully long time. But I’m sure he’ll use the time to think, plan and strageise so that when he finally arrives at Hercules House we’ll see an exciting whirlwind of ideas and innovation.


  1. Spacebahr

    I was relieved to see this snippet on Brand Republic yesterday – a good direction.

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