Govt's Covid advertising tips past $35M in last year alone

Ryan Boswell
Source: 1News

Te Pāti Māori and the ACT Party are questioning why the Government’s Covid advertising is costing tens of millions of dollars.

1 News has obtained figures under the Official Information Act showing $35,097,479 was spent on the vaccine campaign between 1 March 2021 and 28 February 2022.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet said the bill includes creative, advertising, content, website maintenance, translation services and printing, across social media, radio, billboards and television.

No breakdown has been provided of what was spent where or how much 11 social media influencers were paid.

The so-called Vaxathon in October came out of a different budget.

“The vaccine public information campaign is developed and funded by the Ministry of Health, working in partnership with DPMC to ensure a complementary and holistic approach to campaign activity,” the statement said.

Duncan Shand from Young Shand Advertising Agency said while it was an extraordinary amount of money, it was an extraordinary issue that the Government was trying to tackle.

“A normal big advertising campaign can take months.

“There’s a whole lot of work that goes into research and strategy, figuring out how to position things, then really working through all the elements,” said Shand.

ACT leader David Seymour said he wasn’t convinced that much money needed to be spent, given the Prime Minister was getting her message out for free anyway.

“Thirty five million's a lot of money for something that had wall to wall media coverage.

“Most people wanted (the vaccine) and the people that didn’t want it were mostly mandated to have anyway,” said Seymour.

The campaign included specific advertising targeting Māori and Pasifika, but Te Paati Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said those on the frontline did a better job convincing people to get the jab.

“The bureaucrats in this public health response have continuously failed us because they were not aliened and did not even know their very own tangata whenua communities are out there doing massive amounts of work,” said Ngarewa-Packer.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stands by the campaign.

“The covid advertising works been really critical. We've been having to make sure everyone’s aware of alert level changes our and traffic light setting changes.

“It will adapt, it won’t always stay the same and it won’t always been as large,” said Ardern.

A previous version of the headline had an incorrect time frame in it.