Canadians Weary of Economic Action Plan ads

Recent polls are indicating that Canadians may be growing weary of, even hostile to, all those Economic Action Plan ads being run by the federal government for the last four years.

Eight polls the Finance Department commissioned between 2009 and 2012 suggest the TV, radio, print and Internet ads are starting to fizzle, and annoying some people. The most-recently released survey has respondents calling the material “propaganda” and a “waste of money,” while fewer people than ever are taking any action after viewing the ads.

How did it start: Finance Canada has been a leader in Economic Action Plan (EAP) advertising after coining the phrase for the landmark recession-fighting budget of January 2009.The plan logo with stylized arrows and blue background has been stamped on every budget since the 2013 budget will be the next chapter of the so-called EAP?

The early surveys show as many as a quarter of those who remembered seeing the ads in 2009 took some action, such as registering for a home renovation credit. But that number steadily declined in 2010 and 2011, and by April 2012 only about seven per cent of people who said they saw the ads did something as a result.

The very first Economic Action Plan television ads in early 2009 were recalled by 45 per cent of those later polled by Ipsos-Reid, the highest level in the eight polls. The percentage for recall of the TV ads has since been in decline, hitting about 33 per cent in the spring of 2012, the last published poll. And a Privy Council Office analysis of the 2012 numbers shows that when people were quizzed about the actual content of the TV ads, only 20 per cent could describe them in any detail. That suggests the campaign was connecting with only one in five Canadians.

The spring 2012 television campaign, which followed an austerity budget, cost the Finance Department $3.8 million, plus another $1.1 million for production of the ads themselves.

The opposition criticize the  government for EAP advertising which they believe is propoganda. The government‘s position is in an uncertain global economy it is important that Canadians are aware of the measures and programs in the EAP and how they will lead to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.  Canadians want government to inform them of the nature, availability and ways to access benefits and programs according to POR commissioned by the federal government

The Finance Department has spent well over $25 million in Economic Action Plan ads since 2009, in addition to tens of millions of EAP ad spending by other departments. The government reported $52.3 million in total EAP ad spending in 2009-10, but has not provided annual totals in the years since then as ad spending declined.

The analysis, obtained by The Canadian Press notes that among those who had not seen the ads, 42 per cent approved of the overall performance of the government. But the number rises to 47 per cent among those who had seen the TV spots, a five-percentage-point boost in popularity attributed to the advertising campaign.

NEW POLL

Four years after the Conservative government launched its first Economic Action Plan advertising, a new poll suggests that Canadians have become jaded to the continuing barrage of radio and TV commercials.

More than half of those surveyed this week reacted negatively to the ads, calling them either political advertising, a waste of taxpayers’ money, or “junk.”

Forum Research found that only about 1 respondent in 10 thought the widely-broadcast ads were just part of normal government communications.

The Conservative government has been blanketing the Internet, newspapers and radio and television airways with the ads since 2009, along with the distinctive blue and green signs posted next to government-funded infrastructure projects.

Respondents to the poll most often characterized the campaign as political advertising for the Conservative Party (30%), while 24 per cent called them “a waste of taxpayers’ money” and 12 per cent denounced them as “more commercial junk.”

Forum Research’s findings are consistent with Finance Canada’s own tracking polls, which found increasing numbers of respondents considered the ads “propaganda” and a “waste of money,” according to a Canadian Press report last month.

The exact amount the government has spent on the ads is unclear. In the first year of the ad blitz, 2009-10, the government reported spending $52.3 million on EAP ads, according to the Canadian Press, but more recent figures are not available.

Overall, 64 per cent of Conservatives approved of the ads, with disapproval expressed by 66 per cent of Bloc Québécois supporters, 57 per cent of New Democrats and 53 per cent of Liberals.

Past federal governments have also faced allegations they used tax dollars to promote their political objectives, most famously the Liberals under Prime Minister Jean Chrétien over the scandal-ridden sponsorship program in Quebec.

 


About jimmintz

Managing Partner, CEPSM Jim Mintz is a veteran marketing professional with many years of experience as a practioner and academic. He is presently Managing Partner at CEPSM and Program Director of the “Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing” at Sprott School ... Specialty Areas: Social Marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications, Public Sector and Non Profit Marketing
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