State out to make sure it gets value for €80m ad­ver­tis­ing spend

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

THE im­por­tant role that mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing plays in the business world is a com­mer­cial given. But when it comes to the State and the many com­mer­cial and non-com­mer­cial en­ti­ties that fall within its baili­wick, mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing is a deeply-em­bed­ded ne­ces­sity.

With a large num­ber of ten­ta­cles reach­ing into the en­tire so­cial, cul­tural and eco­nomic fab­ric of Ir­ish so­ci­ety — from Gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, and semi-state bod­ies right down to lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and other re­gional bod­ies — mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing plays a key role in help­ing these or­gan­i­sa­tions en­gage with the peo­ple they serve. This in­cludes the new Strate­gic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Unit which will help them with their own in­ter­nal me­dia and mar­ket­ing strate­gies and in some cases, help Ire­land put its best foot for­ward on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

It might come as a sur­prise to some to learn that the State is also the big­gest spender on mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing in Ire­land by far.

Fig­ur­ing out pre­cisely how much the State spends on mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing, how­ever, is fraught with all kinds of dif­fi­cul­ties. But a good start­ing point is the Nielsen Ad­dy­namix plat­form ,which tracks ad­ver­tis­ing spend in Ire­land across Face­book, nei­ther of which dis­close their Ir­ish ad­ver­tis­ing sales.

This €51.95m, how­ever, re­lates solely to money spent on ad­ver­tis­ing with Ir­ish me­dia com­pa­nies and it does not in­clude any cre­ative, de­sign or dig­i­tal ser­vices from out­side con­sul­tants. Nor does it in­clude spend­ing on pub­lic re­la­tions or other mar­ket­ing-re­lated ser­vices. And fi­nally, it does not in­clude ad­ver­tis­ing or mar­ket­ing spend over­seas by the likes of Tourism Ire­land or Bord Bia.

If one was to in­clude all of these, it is en­tirely con­ceiv­able that the full amount would be closer to €75m–€80m, if not more. But in the ab­sence of more con­crete in­for­ma­tion, let’s call this an ed­u­cated guessti­mate. Some­what sur­pris­ingly, ra­dio ad­ver­tis­ing ac­counted for the big­gest chunk of this spend at €18.4m while TV took in around €13.4m, with press get­ting around €9.6m. The out­door in­dus­try, mean­while, ac­counted for €5.5m, ac­cord­ing to the Nielsen fig­ures while cin­ema weighed in with just over €1m. If Google and Face­book, which are not mea­sured by Nielsen, were in­cluded, the amount spent on dig­i­tal ad­ver­tis­ing could con­ceiv­ably be as high as €10m.

But the role mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing plays the day-to-day op­er­a­tions of the State goes way be­yond a 30-sec­ond slot on TV or a full-page ad in a news­pa­per. Some State agen­cies have mar­ket­ing baked into their rai­son d’être.

The most ob­vi­ous of these is Tourism Ire­land, which in­vests around €32m pro­mot­ing Ire­land as a tourist des­ti­na­tion over­seas. Tourism, as we know, is an in­dus­try that reaches into ev­ery county of Ire­land, ac­count­ing for al­most 4pc of GNP and to­tal rev­enues of €8.25bn in 2016. Like­wise, Failte Ire­land, which spends in the or­der of €8m a year, also plays an im­por­tant role in mar­ket­ing Ire­land to us na­tives and help­ing com­pa­nies be­come, well, bet­ter mar­keters.

Then, of course, there’s Bord Bia which spent nearly €34m of its 2015 bud­get of €56m on “pro­mo­tion and mar­ket­ing” — not just on the var­i­ous schemes it op­er­ates — but also help­ing Ir­ish com­pa­nies get into new mar­kets and build­ing their own mar­ket­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

And fi­nally, let us not for­get the tro­jan mar­ket­ing work car­ried out by IDA Ire­land which has been re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­er­ing sub­stan­tial for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment to these shores in re­cent years. Its most re­cent an­nual report for 2016, for ex­am­ple, shows that it spent around €10m ex­ter­nally on mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing dur­ing the year, the bulk of which was over­seas. Given IDA Ire­land’s suc­cess in re­cent years — cou­pled with the fact that there are more than 200,000 peo­ple em­ployed in com­pa­nies it has backed — it’s fair to say that this is money well spent.

Whether or not ev­ery cent spent on mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing by the State and all its en­ti­ties is money well spent will al­ways be a topic of de­bate and some will be eas­ier tar­gets than oth­ers. But like many com­pa­nies in the pri­vate sec­tor in re­cent years, it too has been look­ing at ex­tract­ing much greater ef­fi­cien­cies from its mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing bud­gets.

But then again, with as much as €80m at stake, that’s the way it should be. Con­tact John Mcgee at john@ad­

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