Making "Pictures in Our Heads": Government Advertising in Canada

By Jonathan W. Rose | Go to book overview

Chapter Three
Inside the Idea Factory:
The Production of
Government Advertisements

Sometimes the best way to understand how and why a product takes the form it does is to peer inside the factory where it is made. It is here where one clearly sees that consumer products are shaped not by the demands of consumers, but rather by the exigencies of the producer. So it is with large-scale government advertising. Peering into the factory where advertising is manufactured may allow us a glimpse into how the production and the organizational structure influence the product of advertising. The production of government advertising has two components. The first part is more akin to a head office where strategic planning occurs such as what to produce, how, and why. The second component of production is the place where the advertising is manufactured. This could be described as the shop-floor level, where production decisions are made and specifications followed. Like the shop floor, it has a strict division of labor. To examine how advertising is produced, one must look both within the structure of the head office as well as at the shop-floor where the product is assembled. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the structure of government advertising in Canada, and by doing so, see the emergence of two possibly conflicting trends: increasing centralization in the advertising strategies of the federal government and a greater reliance on private firms to do the work of government advertising.

Decisions about government advertising are made principally in two places. Policy is coordinated from the Privy Council Office, the lead government central agency in implementing and supporting the communication needs of cabinet. This is the executive branch of the head office where the government’s major communication strategies are conducted. Second, the suitably bureaucratic-sounding Communication Coordination Services Branch (CCSB) of Public Works and Government Services Canada

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