The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Government Irresponsibility …
February 24, 2010, 6:28 am
Filed under: Comment

There’s a lot of talk about the value of Government advertising at the moment – especially in the UK – but the thing is, I wonder if it has ever really been effective.

I know there’ll be lots of figures to back up lots of campaigns … but my problem is, as I wrote here, too many Government campaigns are focused on highlighting the issue rather than addressing the cause.

Let’s face it, when you’re the Government, you can create situations and scenarios that can change behaviour more powerfully, quickly and easily than pretty much anything adland could deliver in a million years … but to do that requires effort, so it’s much easier [and cheaper?] to approve an ad campaign because that way they can appear like they care and appease voters without actually having to do anything that could highlight how bad the situation actually is.

Too much alcohol is dangerous.

Going too fast is dangerous.

Not exercising is dangerous.

Drugs are dangerous.

No shit Sherlock!

Come on … do the powers-that-be honestly believe people don’t know this stuff but choose to do it anyway?

Do they honestly believe a 30” ad and some billboards will change deeply ingrained attitudes and behaviour on mass?

Sure it might have some effect … sure it might contribute to a few people stopping/considering what they were previously doing … but when it’s costing hundreds of millions of pounds/euros/dollars to do these sorts of campaigns, you can hardly call that a good return on investment.

But are the Governments the only ones to blame?

Well frankly no.

Promoting the problem rather than addressing the cause is hardly a new situation … this attitude has been around for decades … however I can’t help but feel one of the reasons why so many people are now starting to question the effectiveness and validity of these Government campaigns is more to do with their concern that the huge expenditure – when added to the enormous amounts spent bailing out the banks – could result in the services and benefits they enjoy being directly and negatively impacted rather than them being concerned society is on the brink of total alcohol/obesity/speed and drug abuse.

Is everyone like this?

Of course not … and let’s face it, Government benefits and services hardly allow someone to live in the lap of luxury, so it’s a potentially very serious issue … however if people have been happy to accept ads instead of action for decades, then they have to shoulder some of the blame, even if it is less than the people we have chosen to look after the nations total [not just the ‘glory cities’] development and growth.

There’s a great line in a Michael Moore movie where someone says the French Government are scared of their people whereas in America [and many other countries] the people are scared of their Government … so instead of waiting till polling day where many of us will end up voting for whichever party suits our personal circumstances the best, get angry and make change happen during the term, not at the end.

Maybe we should all follow WK’s Honda ad: hate something, change something … which sounds a damn sight more productive than hate something, whinge.

19 Comments so far
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how many fucking times do george and i have to fucking tell you, were not going to become a political agency, i have ex wives I have to keep bathing in jewellery for fucks sake.

good post though. not as good or as venomous as yesterday but youre showing signs of progression moving from attacking bullshit ad agencies to broadsides on government spending. keep this up and you might have the un launch sanctions against you.

Comment by andy@cynic

admit it campbell, you dont want cynic to be political you want us to be the fucking government. now youve got me interested but only if im minister for babes with self-esteem issues even though the fucking nation would want me as pm. selfish fucking bastards.

Comment by andy@cynic

yeah! you got it right rob!

and someone tell the hk police how to spell drugs while we’re on this topic:

Comment by sky tao

I’ve always wondered why there was such a difference in people’s attitudes regarding drunk driving Vs speeding. They’ll be glad to brag about/ dismiss the latter as not a big deal, whereas you’d have to look pretty hard to find a moron who’s proud about his drunk driving antics, even if unfortunately a lot of people still do it (where i live anyway).

Comment by rafik

Your comment about ads instead of action pretty much sums up what’s wrong with the advertising industry, let alone governments approach to many of their polcies.

Really good post but Andy’s second comment is very alarming and would surely see people demand action rather than ads. LOL.

Comment by Pete

Governments shouldn’t advertise on TV. UK government is the country’s biggest advertiser. Appalling waste of taxpayers money, appaling lack of understanding of behavioural change and appalling creative work.

Comment by John

you mean people would act to make sure i was pm dont you pete? dont you pete!

and doddsy i fucking agree but you know what happens when people tell bruiser brown hes fucking up.

Comment by andy@cynic

its getting political and i have to whinge. well, i agree that a democracy means people participating… if you are sitting in front of your tv being a spectator/consumer rather than an actor… the media of the past ‘trained’ people to go to the elections and the rest of the time watching politicians perform in the media, detached from reality… i am not wondering about low voter participation here or there (even though i think everyone should vote)…

in the main, its not like you see (german) politicians really asking/wanting people to participate in society in other ways than working, shopping, paying taxes and voting. where are the (german) politicians asking you to do something – may it be in your community or just becoming an activist for causes. and where are they doing something that benefits society, except doing their politics. are they good role models anyway?.. i am not wondering about that either, to be honest…

i think all of that is changing. or i hope so, at least. and the honda ad – thats the spirit. its also really sweet and cute and full of love, and bunnies.

Comment by peggy

The problem with democracy is that its turned into a popularity contest where people vote for whichever party has policies that marry their own personal interests.

There’s little ‘long term’ in politics – at least where democratic Governments are concerned – so it’s not that surprising an ‘ad’ is deemed more suitable because they know if they take on any issue that has longer term implications, they’ll probably be voted out before it stands a chance to actually happen/take effect … hence they focus on what will help the economy rather than the fabric of society as they have this attitude that if you have money, you can sort everything else out.

Of course that approach is fraught with dangers and implications and it doesn’t help when the powers-that-be can change legislation in the blink of an eye when it suits them and their major financial contributors … but we all have played a role in this farce, even though the people we have voted to look after our short and longer-term interests have reliquished responsibility to an even greater degree.

As I said, there’s no point bitching about it – action speaks louder than words, we just have to try and change our myopic view from ‘me’ to ‘we’.

And pigs will fly …

Comment by Rob

Very good post Robert but I can see what you’re doing. Uunfortunately for you, you are still to master the art of subtle manipulation.

Comment by Lee Hill

You’ll have to teach me better.

But you’re right. Damn.

Comment by Rob

Bloody hell, it’s politics now is it?
With regards to the government and COI, nothing they ever do will ever work because they research it to within an inch of its life and hit agencies with so many guidelines mandatories they might as well go straight to a production company.
I’ve seen 100 page research reports for logos….
It’s not that they don’t want their initiatives to work, or even care if they work, they just want boxes they can tick – usually, people KNOW they’re doing whatever they’re doing.
Suppliers can’t, or won’t do anything about it, the govt just pays to well.
And it’s not just governments that think short term, step forward marketing directors….

Comment by northern

You’re right of course NP, but I also say a lot of this short-term thinking is driven by the desires of shareholders as much as corporations and so whilst people are quick to whinge, they tend to be very slow in taking some sort of responsibility.

I’m not saying everything can be aimed at the punters on the street who own shares … but I am saying they have an influence which means many organisations focus on the quarter rather than the longer term opportunities and issues.

Then there’s the fact most Marketing Directors only stay in the job for 2 years so there attitude is ‘DON’T FUCK UP’ when the opportunity is ‘MAKE A DIFFERENCE’.

Wonder what would happen if marketeers had the ego of most adfolk … be interesting I think.

Comment by Rob

The other problem is that when Marketing directors do want to make a difference they often start by calling a pitch even when their incumbent is doing brilliant work.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I have a hangover. A huge one.

Comment by The Kaiser

Essentially the short span for Marketing directors makes it harder for them to truly love the brand or understand it; which also explains a lot.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I raised a glas in everyone’s name who had kind words to say. in some cases more than one.

those who did not say anything I am sure thought it, so I drank in your name as well.

Comment by niko

I remember a COI TV ad telling people not to undercook sausages on their barbecues. Just a 30-second long video of a sausage with the backing track ‘When will I see you again’, then a cheesy pay-off line about how it won’t be long before you see it again if you don’t cook it properly.

Are they seriously telling us that the cost of treating people suffering from barbecue-related tummy trouble warrants the investment in a national TV ad campaign?

I suspect it was a department with budget to use up coming toward the end of the financial year.

Comment by davidtiltman

Actually, I find it hard to believe COI would have put money there unless there was a lot of money being spent on it.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

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