Sunday, July 12, 2009

Open Response to MISA- Botswana enquiry on the nature and purpose of the Working Committee on Advertising

source: Republic of Botswana (11/7/09) TAUTONA TIMES no 18 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline

D3) 3/7/09: Open Response to MISA- Botswana enquiry on the nature and purpose of the Working Committee on Advertising

This Office yesterday received an enquiry from MISA-Botswana as to the nature and purpose of the recently established Working Committee on Advertising. Below please find our response, which in the interest of greater public understanding and transparency we hereby copy to domestic media.


To ensure greater cost control and more effective messaging in Government sponsored advertising, the Permanent Secretary to the President has directed that a Working Committee to Oversee Government Sponsored Advertising be established. The said Committee met for the first time on 19 June 2009.

Contrary to speculation appearing in some media, it is neither the mission nor intent of the said Committee to target any media house. It may be further noted that the Committee will be concerned with advertising in public as well as private media, including international as well as domestic ad spend.

The membership of the Working Committee currently consists of Director level officials drawn from the Office of President, Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (MCST), Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM); and three additional Ministries on a rotational basis.

The Terms of Reference for the Committee are as follows – “The Working Committee Shall:

• "exercise quality assurance over all Government sponsored advertising. This shall be done through weekly monitoring, evaluation and feedback to the Accounting Officers of the Ministries;
• "receive and advise on submissions of anticipated advertising initiatives from line Ministries;
• "undertake such additional advertising or marketing research as it may be directed to undertake in order to advance its mandate;
• "from time to time come up with additional long-term strategies to advance its mandate in line with Presidential Directive CAB: 30/2006 of August 2006, and any other relevant directives;
• "report to the Permanent Secretary to the President through the BGCIS [Botswana Government Communication and Information System] Coordinator, acting in consultation with the Permanent Secretary MCST and the Director DPSM.”

While the need to introduce cost control and quality assurance measures in the delivery of Government sponsored advertising has been given additional impetus in the context of the current economic downturn, it has otherwise been long recognised and indeed provided for in existing policy.

In particular, as has been previously reported on various occasions to the press and public, the vetting of Government sponsored advertising to ensure appropriate cost control and effective messaging was originally provided for by Presidential Directive CAB: 30/2006 of August 2006, which mandated that the BGCIS be given the responsibility of ensuring that advertising by Government is at all times cost effective and serves a public purpose.

In carrying out this mandate BGCIS was further tasked with monitoring and or coordinating the buying of advertising and marketing space for Government, as well as the content development and production of Government information products.

In line with the above mandate, an inter-ministerial task force was established in late September 2006 to facilitate implementation of the BGCIS Directive. Among its findings the Task Force identified marketing or advertising services as a core BGCIS Function. In reaching said conclusion the Task Force was mindful of, and in conformity with, identified international best practice benchmarks, e.g.

• The Advertising and Marketing Division and Media Buying Agency of the Central Information Office, which services the UK Government;
• The Communications Services Agency of the South African;
• The Central Advertising System in Australia;
• The Secretariat for Communications of the Federal Government in Canada;
• The Marketing and Special Projects Department of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS); and
• The Corporate Services Section of the Office of the Prime Minister in New Zealand.

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