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AUCKLAND, Friday: The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that it’s appointed Saatchi & Saatchi to handle advertising around the two referenda that are part of this year’s General Election package – Cannabis and Euthanasia*.

M+AD and the NZ Herald had the scoop on Friday – but the story, although accurate, was largely based on information supplied by unnamed informants.

NZ Ministry of Justice acting deputy secretary of policy Caroline Greaney said (in a statement supplied by the agency on Saturday): “Saatchi has been appointed to support the public information programme for the referendums.

“They will assist with delivery of a sign-posting programme to ensure voters are aware of the sources of factual, impartial information.

“The appointment of Saatchi & Saatchi to deliver the public information programme followed a competitive procurement process closed to five pre-identified suppliers on the All-of-Government (AoG) Advertising Panel.

“This approach met the ministry’s obligations under both the ministry and government procurement policies, expectations and principles.

“The team at Saatchi & Saatchi is experienced in developing and delivering creative, targeted and highly effective communication programmes, for a broad range of clients and services.

Currently, Twitter, Facebook and Google don’t accept marijuana ads.”

“They have demonstrated experience in working with Government agencies to provide factual, impartial public information programmes.

“We’re unable, at this time, to confirm the budget amount allocated for this work as it could prejudice confidentiality of advice tendered by Ministers of the Crown and officials.”

Rules on advertising pot
Currently, Twitter, Facebook and Google won’t accept marijuana ads, leaving a large share of global marijuana advertising to blogs and podcasts, newsletters and print media. Whether this will apply to official government ads in NZ remains to be seen.

In the US, radio, cable, print, and digital ads can only be displayed where at least 71.6% of the audience is expected to be over the age of 21.

Ads cannot be posted near day-care centres, schools, playgrounds or youth centres.

Our image
It’s too early to speculate on just what creative approach Saatchi adopts – they’re bound to be very carefully fact-based, and likely to be quite dry at first …

… Nothing like our image at the top of this page, which we’ve included purely for entertainment!

*The referenda will be held on the draft Cannabis Legalisation & Control Bill and the End of Life Choice Act.

**Referenda or Referendums? Both are OK.

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