GLRO16-16 London Elects marketing campaign for the 2016 elections

Type of decision: 
GLRO decision
Date signed: 
19 November 2015
Decision by: 
Jeff Jacobs, Head of Paid Service

Executive summary

This decision requests authorisation of expenditure to plan and deliver an integrated marketing communications campaign to inform the London electorate that Mayoral and London Assembly elections are taking place (awareness) and explain the voting process (knowledge).


That the GLRO approves expenditure of £375,000 to plan and deliver an integrated marketing communications campaign to deliver two goals:
•    Raise awareness among the London electorate that the Mayor of London and London Assembly Elections are taking place on the 5 May 2016.
•    Explain the voting process among the London electorate, building understanding about how, when and where to vote.


Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    The GLRO has a responsibility to provide the electorate with information about the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections. One of the channels for this will be through an awareness raising and information marketing campaign.  

1.2    Section 69 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 (EAA) introduced a duty on each Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer to “take such steps as he thinks appropriate to encourage the participation by electors in the electoral process in the area for which he acts”.

1.3    Each London Borough has their own Electoral Registration Officer and it is their responsibility (along with the Electoral Commission) to get people to register to vote. The GLRO, as the Returning Officer for the elections of the Mayor and London-wide Assembly members, will fulfil his obligation by providing the London electorate with information on when, where and how to vote. This will be carried out in part by the Mayor of London and London Assembly marketing campaign.

1.4    The campaign will be planned and delivered in a manner to ensure balance, defined as reaching London voters across various populations, demographics and communities in a proportionate measure across London, and cost effectiveness.

1.5    Balance will be achieved by selecting a media mix that reaches a base profile of London Adults which does not favour one group over another. Owned GLA and TfL assets will be taken as a starting point and additional media purchased to ensure all groups are reached in broadly equal amounts. 

1.6    Campaign media channels will include:




(% of London Adults who have the opportunity to see or hear activity)



(the number of times these London Adults are exposed)

GLA poster assets (London Underground posters, bus stop posters, Docklands Light Rail in-carriage posters)



TfL poster assets (exterior bus posters)





Radio (balanced station choice)


3 per week / per station

Online and social



Local press



Search (pay-per-click)







93% of All London Adults (6.1m) will be reached an average

of 30 times


1.7    Cost effectiveness will be achieved by bringing marketing and creative services in-house and by maximising use of free GLA and TfL assets. An indicative budget breakdown for the 2016 campaign is as follows:




Forecast 2016 spend

Paid media

Radio, local press, digital and social media, search (pay-per-click)



Proposition testing, creative testing, pre/post campaign tracking



Printing  (e.g. TfL inventory, leaflets), ad supply and posting



Video, advertorials


Social media listening & reporting

Sentiments tracking, monitoring to help with reactive activity (similar to New Year’s Eve 2014 fireworks)



May be required for additional production/content costs (e.g. banners, on site branding)


Total spend


Added media value (free of charge GLA and TfL poster assets)

+ £574,132

Campaign value (total spend + additional secured media value)


Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The objectives of the campaign are as follows:
•    Reach at least 85% of London voters to raise awareness among the London electorate that the Mayor of London and London Assembly Elections are taking place on 5 May 2016.
•    Explain the voting process among the London electorate, building understanding about how, when and where to vote.


Equality comments

4.1    The marketing campaign will only run in English, however top line information will be available in 18 other languages on the London Elects website ( 

4.2    All media assets will be created to ensure relevant accessibility standards are met.
4.3    In making decisions about the nature and reach of the marketing campaign, the GLRO must have due regard under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and those who do not.  Protected characteristics under the Equality Act cover age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership status (duty to eliminate unlawful discrimination only).  The duty is an ongoing one and should be kept under review. 

Other considerations

3.1    Key risks and issues

•    Timescales: Media booking deadlines for the campaign are in February 2016. To meet this deadline briefs will need to be issued in November at the latest. Budget approval is required before this can take place.

•    Working with boroughs: In 2012 London Elects liaised directly with the London boroughs to identify additional low cost advertising opportunities through council publications, outdoor sites and distribution channels. In 2012, some boroughs wanted to do their own advertising around the elections so London Elects produced London Elects artwork for the boroughs to co-brand and use at their own expense. This activity proved a cost-effective way to broaden the reach of the London Elects marketing campaign and ensure borough and GLA activity was integrated. Working with boroughs in 2016 still represents a good opportunity, however thus far there has been limited appetite from the boroughs as a result of their constrained budgetary position. There is a risk that uptake from some boroughs and not others would skew the reach of the campaign in favour of certain groups within the participating boroughs. In summary, greater reach and integration could be achieved but at the risk of over-arching balance.  The engagement with boroughs is currently underway, their desire to carry out local advertising (outside of register to vote activity) is being assessed and the impact of local advertising will be considered on a case-by-case basis and reported back to the GLRO and elections programme as part of our risk management. 

•    Reputation: There is a reputational risk for London Elects in delivering a marketing campaign. It is important the campaign is perceived as being unbiased. Campaign research and testing will help to mitigate this and all assets will be signed off by the GLRO.

•    Change of media agency: The current contract with the GLA’s media planning and buying agency (Mediaedge) is due to expire on the 31 December 2015. A contract extension has been agreed up to March 2016 and is currently undergoing a governance process through procurement. To ensure continuity a further extension is being sought for the London Elects marketing campaign, up to May 2016. If this is unsuccessful there is a risk that additional media costs could be incurred and significant procurement implications.

•    Borough and Electoral Commission campaigns: The Electoral Commission and London boroughs have a duty to encourage voter registration among the electorate. To this end the Electoral Commission will be running a national advertising campaign to raise awareness that people need to register to vote between 1 February and 18 April. It is likely that the London Elects marketing campaign will be live at the same time. Work will be undertaken with the Electoral Commission to ensure as far as possible that the campaigns are mutually supportive and messaging for each is clear and effective.  Helpfully, both GLA and Electoral Commissions utilise the same media planning agency which will assist in ensuring a co-ordinated approach.

•    Individual Electoral Registration (IER): the Government have decided to bring forward the conclusion of IER to December 2015 and the impact of this will be the focus of the Electoral Commission’s and London boroughs’ register to vote activity.  Although not the direct objective, our awareness campaign can have a secondary effect of reminding individuals to contact their borough if they have yet to receive their polling card.  

3.2    Campaign timings 

It is estimated that the marketing campaign will run for approximately 8 weeks during the run up to polling day. Exact timings and phasing will be confirmed during campaign planning in consultation with the GLA’s contracted media planning and buying agency.

Financial comments

5.1    The budget available to plan and deliver an integrated marketing communications campaign to raise awareness of the Mayoral Election and the voting process is for a value of up to £375,000, held within the Elections cost centre. This anticipated cost is based on the media contract with “Mediaedge” being extended to May 2016. 

5.2    If the media contract with “Mediaedge” is not extended to May 2016, there is a risk that additional media costs could be incurred. Any additional costs will be contained within the overall Elections budget.

6.    Legal comments

6.1    The GLRO’s obligation under section 69 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 to encourage participation in the electoral process is noted in the ‘Introduction and background’ section above. The proposed publicity campaign is calculated to fulfil that obligation.

6.2    The GLRO and London Elects are obliged to be politically neutral throughout the publicity campaign. The need to ensure balance is expressly acknowledged in the ‘Introduction and background’ and ‘Other considerations’ sections above. 

6.3    Officers should continue to engage with TfL’s procurement team to ensure that the services are secured from Mediaedge or another supplier in a procurement-compliant way.

Planned delivery approach and next steps

Please note these dates should be viewed as indicative






GLRO paper drafted and approved

Oct  - Nov 2015

Issue briefs - media, research, creative

Nov 2015

Campaign planning research

Nov – Jan 2016

Media booking

February 2016

Campaign live

March 2016

Mayor of London and London Assembly polling day

5 May 2016