“Behind the smoke”, a com ‘campaign at a well-kept price

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You may have seen it on a bus shelter, on television, or in your newspapers. The government’s latest campaign – titled “Behind the Smoke” – aims to raise awareness of the unknown risks associated with cannabis: insecurity in cities, failure at school or even domestic accidents.

One of its peculiarities? Its price, unknown. Neither the government, nor the advertising agency responsible for the design, nor the production company wants to give it away. According to a source, such a campaign “Can go beyond a million euros, even two or three”.

A figure corroborated by a document from 2012, published by the Government Information Service (SIG), the body responsible for communicating on the action of the executive and monitoring public opinion. Selon this text, the medium budget by campaign publawful, including the costs of design, construction and purchase of space [publicitaire] is relatively weak (€ 1.6M) ”.

The exact amount – funded 100% by public money – of “Behind the Smoke” is being kept a secret. “We never communicate the amounts of the awareness campaign”, opposes an adviser to the Prime Minister. He simply concedes that it is “Of a big campaign ”, a sign that it may cost a little more money than the others. That’s it. At a time when the State is making an important effort of transparency (on public contracts, declarations of interest by ministers, or the register of lobbyists in Parliament), there are still some very poorly lit areas.

112,000 euros for 30 seconds of advertising on TF1

This campaign was commissioned by the government from Publicis, a global communications juggernaut. The copywriters of the advertising agency imagined what the campaign would look like, in connection with the GIS. The production of the film was then entrusted to La PAC, a Parisian advertising production company. According to our information, the campaign was shot at the end of July in Orsay and Gif-sur-Yvette (Essonne). 50 to 60 people worked on it for two days.

Finally, once the campaign has been shot, it remains to be broadcast. For this, the executive entrusts the purchase of advertising space (on TF1, in The Parisian, on JCDecaux bus shelters, etc.) at Dentsu Consulting, the French branch of the Japanese communications giant. “We buy, we offer, we advise the government on the system that must be implemented”, explains someone close to the case.

Buying advertising space is the most expensive thing for the government. For example, a 30-second advertisement broadcast this Thursday on TF1, before the 9 pm film, costs 112,000 euros. But this price does not take into account the various possible reductions. Especially when a client (here, the State) buys in large volume, several advertising spots.

This is the case for “Behind the Smoke”: the campaign lasts a month, until September 22. Then, two other sections devoted to cannabis will emerge. In the fall, a campaign dedicated to the dangers of cannabis while driving. Finally, at the end of the year, a third and final salute on the dangers of the substance for health.

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