British government ad spending soared 33.8% in the first eight months of 2003, according to data from Nielsen Media Research, handing political opponents a critical custard pie.

Shadow secretary for culture, media and sport, John Whittingdale took aim, claiming that that the government had squandered an additional £15 million ($26.12m; €21.53m) on advertising while public services and pensions were in crisis.

He then hurled his pie at a Teflon-coated target: "What people want is concerted action to solve the problems of our public services, to tackle the pensions crisis and to make us feel safe on our streets. Instead, all they get is a blizzard of advertising designed to con us into believing that they [the Blair administration] know what they are doing," said Whittingdale.

The expenditure data came from tracking ads placed by COI Communications, the administrative interface between the British government and its roster of advertising and marketing agencies.

The COI spent £62.7m on advertising between January and August, a period-on-period rise of 33.8% from last year's £46.8m. Internet advertising, in particular, soared almost 60% to £1.125m.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff