The government still seems to be shying away from spending too much money advertising its ID card and National ID Register schemes.
In a commons answer yesterday ID minister Meg Hillier said that the Identity and Passport Service had spent £1.3m so far buying "buying advertising space to communicate to the business community nationally and to consumers in Greater Manchester, north west England and London" about the ID card and National ID Register schemes.
Another £87,700 has been spent "on developing and printing marketing material such as brochures, leaflets and application guidance notes for consumers in Greater Manchester, north west of England, London and airside workers".
Public relations spending on the scheme has so far amounted to a a big fat zero - the government presumably relying on Whitehall's inhouse comms staff to set the press right on the ins and outs of the scheme.
Hillier said the government had ponied up £11,930 for "branding" associated with the scheme. We presume they're talking logos, umbrellas and the like, though with people liable for fines if they don't keep their entry on the NIR up to date, perhaps having their details burned on to their backsides is indeed a sensible option. Though that still leaves the issue of where to shove the biometric chip.
Hilliers' answer follows one from immigration minister Phil Woolas last October, when the government revealed it had paid £62,000 "to marketing communication agencies for public information activities to ensure businesses were aware of the Identity Card for Foreign Nationals when it was introduced in November 2008".
Woolas also said that "payments of £464,314 have been made to marketing communication agencies by the Identity and Passport Service in preparation for the launch of the Identity Card and Identification Card for UK citizens in Greater Manchester and for airside workers later this year".
While many would applaud the government for not hurling money at media consultants, it does seem strange that the flagship ID scheme has attracted so little marketing oomph from a government supposedly obsessed with branding and marketing.
It's almost as if someone just wanted the scheme to fade away of its own accord, or alternatively was waiting to see if they could sneak back into power before ramming it down the public's throat. ®