Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Advertising, love it or loathe it (usually loathe) is a ubiquitous part of todays life, with agencies and businesses trying to tell us how much we need/desire/want a product or service. Even the government is in on it, though in true Labour style they appear to be using it for propaganda as well as party political purposes.


The Government has become the biggest spender on advertising in the country for the first time, new figures have disclosed. 

The revelation has drawn Conservative claims that ministers are using taxpayers' money to "buy the general election".
The Central Office of Information spent £207.9 million on advertising last year, more than any other organisation, according to Marketing magazine. 
The next biggest spender was Procter and Gamble, the consumer products group, which spent £155 million in 2009.
Government spending on advertising and marketing rose while commercial companies were reducing their expenditure. Companies including Marks & Spencer and Renault cut their spending by half.
Total spending by the top 100 advertisers fell by 10 per cent from 2008, the figures showed.
By contrast, COI spending rose by 13 per cent from 2008.
Some £85 million of public money was spent on television advertising. Another £52.1 million went on radio spots. Press spending was £47.4 million.
The Tories say state spending on advertising is rising as the general election approaches.
Separate figures disclosed earlier this month showed that Government advertising spending reached £30 million in January.
Francis Maude, the shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: "This has all the hallmarks of a banana republic, trying to buy the election by abusing public funds."
I think the Tories have a case, though to my mind the biggest abuse was the drowning dog/global warming/climate change clip which was biased, unscientific and just plain wrong as well as feeding on the fears of children. Still I think government advertising ought to be limited to just plain facts as well as the translation services slashed to just native languages (those native to the Islands, not the immigrants)
However the problem appears to go a lot deeper.

The Office of Fair Trading should investigate the impact council-funded free newspapers are having on regional papers, a committee of MPs has said.
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee said it was concerned about the growing number of council papers and the effect they were having on local democracy.
Some were "misleading in nature" and showed political bias, the report said.
Classic case of Pot, kettle, black there from the MP's considering what the government gets up too with its advertising.
Many local papers have closed in recent years with some editors blaming the effect of council-funded publications.
Research from the Newspaper Society last year found that nine in 10 councils now print their own newspaper.
Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam, led a debate on the issue in Westminster earlier this year in which he highlighted the impact that council newspapers, funded by local taxpayers, were having on the health of the independent local press.
He highlighted one example of a London council which produced a 72-page paper which includes news, reviews, TV listings and restaurant features. Meanwhile the local paper has seen its circulation drop by 62%.
In the report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the future for local and regional media, committee chairman John Whittingdale said the industry was facing "unprecedented challenges".
So the taxpayer is picking up the bill for free newspapers for all too, all your news, tv, local gossip and political propaganda in one dose delivered to your door and coming out of your taxes whether you voted for the sods or not.
He said: "This has led to the closure of a large number of newspapers, many commercial radio stations becoming loss-making and the possible end of regional news on commercial television.
"This has serious implications for local democracy."
While it was important for local authorities to communicate with their citizens, it was "unacceptable" that councils could set up publications in direct competition to local newspapers and "act as a vehicle for political propaganda", he said.
The MPs recommended making it mandatory for publications to clearly state on their front page that they are published by a local authority.
Communicate, yes, tell us how great the ruling political group is no. And putting a local authority logo on the front doesn't address the problem either it's just more advertising, paid by us, given out free to everyone including those who don't pay for it. No wonder the local papers are struggling, the councils run short on money they just put the rates up, the local paper puts its prices up they lose customers.
This waste of public money both national and local should be one of the first things to go, it isn't necessary, nor is it a vital front line service.
There is scope for a massive range of cuts in government spending, no front line services need be affected, all they have to do is trim the fat from stuff like advertising and translation services, prune back the bureaucracy, simplify not continually quantify.
Not that I'm going to hold my breath till it happens, the Tories if they get in might be better, but I have my doubts, Cameron still seems wedded to a big spending state ideal.


2 annotations:

James Higham said...

The greater the corruption, the greater the spending, the greater the advertising and lies and the greater the chances of being returned.

Antisthenes said...

Using my fingers I calculate that if you eliminate all the unnecessary spending and non-jobs, returned responsibility and self-reliance to the people and stopped government doing work that would be better off being done by the private sector, it would stop 65% of tax payers money being spent by government on their behalf. The cost saving to the spend side of the economy because of efficiency savings should then be between 20 - 30%. Those saving could then be spent in the wealth creation part of the economy.