Government advertising is problematic. As I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, advertising is purposely manipulative. It attempts to convince, and not just inform. Coca Cola ads invite you to “Open Happiness”. Now, any fool will tell you that there is no real connection between Coke and happiness, but if Coca Cola knows anything, it knows this: once a subliminal connection is made from the Coke logo to a scene involving upbeat music, happy people, and even the very word “happiness”, people will buy the product. This is manipulation. And it works.
When governments engage in this kind of manipulation, there is something wrong. A government should create policy and present it to the public in a non-manipulative way: i.e. in a press release – and NOT as our current premier has done, by buying advertising time during the Global News broadcast in order for her to advertise her jobs plan. And make no mistake, this is advertising as manipulative as it gets. The Premier can script and control the spin, cloaking intent through the dissemination of select information, and through euphemism. The problem is that rather than reporting dispassionately its plans in such a way that reasoned debate of the inherent issues is possible, the government manipulates the public into agreeing with it. This form of manipulation is called propaganda, and it should be illegal.