LONDON: Social spending – or propaganda? The jury is out on the British government's highest-ever adspend during the twelve months to 31 March. But, however interpreted, total media expenditure by the Brown administration grew 15.9% to £156.9 million ($313.7m; €197.97m).

The figures, published Wednesday by COI Communications (the interface between the British government and its roster of advertising and marketing agencies) also show northbound digital spend, spiralling 57.6% to £35.4m. 
According to Nielsen Media Research data, the British taxpayer is now the nation's second largest measured media advertiser, albeit well below numero unoProcter & Gamble, which hiked spend 13% to a massive £203m.

Unilever, the previous year's runner-up, was relegated to third place with adspend of £142m; while NewsCorp's BSkyB upped its spend from 58% to £115m in an unsuccessful attempt to stifle its recently-launched pay-TV rival Virgin Media, which occupied fourth place.

COIC's spend extends well beyond measured media to digital, PR, sponsorship, direct marketing and events, reports ceo Alan Bishop.

"The COI's established and newer channels have shown growth over the year," he said, although adding that "as a proportion of overall turnover [traditional] advertising spend continues to decline."

The increase in government spend is primarily attributable to high-profile 'issue' campaigns such as the smoking ban in England and Wales, road safety and climate change. Army recruitment also figured large on the spend-list.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff