Is George Osborne cutting government ads or not?

Well new chancellor George Osborne, wielding his much-hyped spending shears, says he’s going to ‘freeze’ the government’s £540m marketing budget (of which about half goes on media advertising) and allow only ‘essential’ campaigns such as armed forces recruitment.

But this is a blatant cop-out, all the campaigns, mostly co-ordinated by the COI, are deemed essential surely.

And, as the Government’s policies prove unpopular in the country, as they surely will, Osborne’s colleagues will no doubt find that they want to spend a bit of money to get their message across.

If Osborne and his Liberal Democrat henchman David Laws (known as Osborne and Little, after the Osborne family wallpaper firm and reflecting Laws’ diminutive stature) were really serious then they would have come out and said today that they were to shave, say, 20 per cent off the total.

So is this a reprieve for UK adland?

It will be impossible to tell until the spending is totted up in a year’s time. But all Osborne and Little have done is make it infinitely harder to plan government campaigns properly.

And campaigns cobbled together at the last minute tend not to work and they cost more.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.