Thursday, 25 June 2009

Supporting Media in Hard Times, Or Buying Friends: Quebec Increased Ad Buys in 2008-09

The Quebec government increased its spending on advertising by 25 per cent in 2008-2009, Presse Canadienne reported on Monday. Total ad buys in all media—television, radio, newspapers, magazines, Internet and billboards--were up $10.7 million from $40.6 million in the previous fiscal year. The figure was $37.9 million in 2002-2003.

Marie-Claire Ouellet, associate general secretary of the provincial agency responsible for advertising, said the increase was “not exceptional” and explained that $3.7 million of the increase went to promote energy efficiency while the Ministry of Culture and Communications doubled its advertising expenses to $2.7 million, including $1.2 million to promote the French language.

That may be, but Premier Jean Charest appeared in an awful lot of the ads in the months leading up to last year’s provincial elections, Stéphane Bédard, spokesman for the opposition Parti Québécois is quoted as saying.

Could be: institutional ads are a way for a government in power to get across any message it wants. But another, unmentioned motive may be a desire to take up some of the slack left when commercial advertisers began slashing their budgets when the economic crunch came last fall. Buying advertising in newspapers and electronic media is a way to get on the media’s good side, particularly in bad times. He who pays the piper calls the tune, as we all know.

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