AA’s Tim Lefroy snubs ‘big society’ offer from government advisers Sorrell and Lane Fox

We’re reading between the lines here of course but WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell and woman-about-everything-new-media Martha Lane Fox are advising the coalition government on its communications policy, in particular its desire to get more bang for its bucks (or, in this, case no bucks).

As part of its ‘big society’ initiative cabinet office minister Francis Maude wants media owners, advertisers and agencies to donate million of pounds of effort and inventory for free even as the Government slashes its communications spend and the jobs of people at the COI who used to spend it.

This cunning plan is based on the example of the US Ad Council, set up originally to provide patriotic publicity in World War Two.

Maude has already tried to persuade the BBC to run government ads for nothing and been told by director general Mark Thompson to get lost. Now the Advertising Association’s Tim Lefroy has blown his chance of a knighthood by telling Maude the same. He’s done this once of course but the Government seems to have come back for more.

The AA represents advertisers, media owners and agencies so this latest thumbs down for Maude (and big society inventor, David Cameron aide and former adman Steve Hilton) looks pretty conclusive.

According to Lefroy the industry “shouldn’t risk [existing good cause] commitments to plug gaps where taxpayer investment is justified”.

So is this also a snub for Sir Martin and Ms Lane Fox? Did they advise Maude that the industry would play ball if he asked nicely?

Well on the face of it it looks as though it is.

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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.