Johnathan W. Rose, Marking "Pictures in Our Heads": Government Advertising in Canada, Westport (CT): Praeger, 2000.
Jonathan Rose is a professor of political science at Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario).
Rose begins his introduction by explaining that his book is concerned with the increasing frequency with which governments use advertising as a means of persuading the public of the acceptability and desirability of policies. Rather than listening to and acting in the best interests of the public, he argues that politicians are using advertising and advertising strategies to sell the public pre-packaged ideas. He claims that the use of such advertising tools suggests that there are significant problems in how governments communicate complex issues to the public. If complex issues are only presented in short, simplistic advertisements, Rose suggests that the public's understanding of their increasingly complex government institutions and the government's policies will likely be jeopardized. Such advertising does not aim to fully inform the public, but rather to persuade it to support a particular position without being properly informed. The manipulation of words, sounds, and images, so as to conjure particular emotional responses and convince the public to support a policy, does not encourage independent or critical thought.
In particular, Rose's book is concerned with how the federal government of Canada is (as of 2000) and has used advertising to sell ideas and policies to the public. While this method of attempting to bypass parliamentary debate and appealing directly to the public, which some have argued is merely a form of direct democracy, raises questions about the health and functionality of our parliamentary system, Rose is more concerned about how the use of 30 second advertisements destroys the relationship between governments and the public. Policies are no longer things that are to be explained to the public, but things which can be sold to the public in the same way fast-food is sold, and by using the same semiotic techniques of manipulation so as to appeal to basic human instincts. Advertisements are designed to increase compliance with government policies while discouraging real conversation concerning issues, both because they discourage people from asking questions about the policy though the use of semiotic tools and the lack of opposing positions, and because the medium removes the possibility of conversation.
Such government advertising is not restricted to election campaigns, and it does not always need to be about specific policies. Rather, government advertising which is ostensibly about non-political events acts to create an association between support or rejection of those events and the party in power. For example, a government advertisement praising the nation's athletes at an Olympic games or the military suggests that the party in power supports those groups since people identify the government of Canada with the political party which currently forms the government.
Thus, Rose's two major concerns throughout his book are 1) that the increasing use of advertizing to talk about politics debases our political system and our position as citizens, and 2) that scholars' and commentators' comments about the pervasiveness of advertising, including government advertising, ignores questions about how such ads actually manufacture consent. While spending more than any other advertiser in Canada, Rose notes that the federal government's advertising campaigns are only ever regularly attacked during election campaigns, and then only when government advertisements are seen as obviously biased in favour of the governing party. While there is often a general complaint that the advertisements are a form of propaganda, any analysis usually only takes one of two forms. The first are complaints about the cost of the ads and how public funds are being used for political ends. The second is usually about when the ads were broadcast during the campaign, and whether such timing was an obvious attempt to manipulate the public. However, all such analysis, while discussing whether the ads are effective, typically ignores the linguistic, visual, and audio devices and methods used to make the ad effective.
In the second section of the introduction concerning Rose's "Method of Study" he explains that his book looks at government advertising from the perspective of how such ads make use of semiotics and rhetoric. He then goes on to explain semiotics as being the study of signs (be they visual, textual, audible, olfactory, etc.) and how those signs are understood by the audience. All advertising consists of combinations of such signs. Each sign is chosen and used in combination with others so as to produce a particular response from the audience, and thus, communicate a particular message. That message, or the way those signs are interpreted, depends upon what the signs represent to the audience members, which can be different for any one individual, although members of the same culture tend to have the same, or at least similar, understandings of the same signs. Without shared cultural assumptions the meaning of the message may be lost on the audience. Semiotics is the attempt to study both the signs employed and their meaning for the target audience so as to understand the intended meaning of the message. This approach tends to focus more upon the individual receiving the message than the person or group transmitting it, since it is the interpretation by the audience which is in question, not the assumptions made by the creator of the message about the audience. Rhetoric, however, is the study of the tools employed by the sender of the message. Rose states that his book employs both rhetoric and semiotics to try and understand both what tools governments and their advertising agencies use to transmit specific messages (rhetoric), as well as why those messages are interpreted in specific ways by their audience (semiotics). He recognizes that neither approach to the examination of message creation or interpretation can ever offer objective findings, and thus explain exactly what either the creator or receiver of the messages were thinking, but they offer informed explanations about what was likely to have been thinking, and thus, show the interaction and process of message creation between the sender and receiver. To understand the interpretation of government advertising, Rose uses both the advertisements as well as a contextual/historical understanding of the culture/audience. These are then discussed in the light of semiotic analysis. The intended meaning, or the thinking behind the advertisements creation, is understood by both examining the ads themselves, as well as archival material which gives some information as to the intention of the government. Likewise, this evidence is then examined in the light of studies on the use and effectiveness of rhetoric.
Rose next offers a more detailed explanation of rhetoric and its use in advertising. Rhetoric is the art of using discourse, or some other meaningful sign, to inform, persuade, or motivate an audience in a particular way. It is based upon understanding the available means of persuasion in a particular context. Aristotle considered it to be the counterpart to both logic and politics, in that it is not based upon reason or debate.
Rose notes that for Aristotle there are two kinds of logical reasoning, deductive and inductive proof. Inductive proof relies upon examples, while deductive proof relies upon syllogistic or enthymatic arguments. Syllogistic arguments are those where both the major and minor premises are stated, and upon those a conclusion is formed. For example: A=B, B=C, therefore A=C. In the case of enthymemes, however, one of the premises is not explicitly stated and the conclusion relies upon its assumption by the audience. To illustrate this, Rose uses the example of Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, where only one of two premises are explicitly stated. Dr. King stated that African-Americans were pursuing their fight for civil rights in a non-violent manner (premise), as well as the conclusion that God will allow that dream to be realized (conclusion). What he leaves out is the premise that God looks favourably upon, and rewards those who use non-violence. This premise is implied given the cultural background of his audience. As Aristotle noted, this form of enthymeme is the most effective because it involves the audience in the logical process. That the audience can provide the missing premise gives the audience a sense of having some kind of inside, or privileged, knowledge, and that they can supply it and complete the reasoning of the argument creates a sense of connection to and ownership of the supplied conclusion. They are made to feel smart in figuring out, or making sense of, the supplied conclusion. What is ignored, however, is whether the supplied or assumed premises are wrong, or if the supplied conclusion is wrong. Where as a syllogism simply leaves the audience to think about the supplied premises and conclusion, the enthymeme introduces an element of self-satisfaction or self-congratulation, which discourages the audience from challenging the premises or the conclusion.
For Aristotle, rhetoric was neither good nor bad, but was the legitimate way that anyone could persuade another of truths. Plato, by contrast, believed that rhetoric was merely a means of trickery, and that truth could not be arrived at through persuasion but through dialectic and arriving at certainties and transcendental truths.
A commonly used tool of rhetoric are symbols. They can be visual, audible, textual, etc. In the case of speech, commonly used phrases such as "time is money" are often used as rhetorical tools in that they are often understood by the receiver to be true since they are used so often in an unquestioning manner. Making a logical connection between such symbols and something else of which the speaker is attempting to convince the receiver will thus strengthen the speaker's persuasiveness since the assumed truth of the rhetorical symbol will suggest the truth of that which he/she is associating with it. In the case of the government, associations between the flag (which is commonly understood to be something which citizens should respect) and the governing party or one of its policies implies that, since a good Canadian respects the flag, a good Canadian should also respect and approve of the associated party or policy.
Rose explains that the way in which such symbols are used can be understood in terms of "tropes." A trope is a situation where words, or images, or some other signs, are used in a sense other than their literal meaning. As Rose notes, according to Burke, there are four main kinds of tropes: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony. Rose argues that these four kinds of tropes "can be thought of as the linguistic building blocks of rhetoric." (page 9)
Metaphor is a literary sign which is used to represent a less sensible thing, quality, or idea. It is thus a figure of speech which attempts to describe one thing by forming an association between it and something else. Thus, the sentence "His financial advice is rock solid" tries to form an association between a person's financial forecasting abilities and the strength and stability of a rock.
Metonymy is a figure of speech where something is not referred to by its real name, but by something which is often associated with it. For example, "Detroit" is often used to refer to the American automotive industry, or "Ottawa" is used to refer to the federal government of Canada.
Synecdoche is a figure of speech where part of something is used to refer to the whole, or where the whole is used to refer to a part. An example would be "Canadians win world series," where the team that won the baseball tournament was the Toronto Blue Jays, but the whole country is used to refer to the baseball team, or part of that country. The implied message, however, is that all Canadians should feel proud because a part of that country won the baseball tournament.
Finally, irony is a literary device where the literal meaning of a statement is the opposite of its intended meaning. For example, saying "I'm so sorry" when it is clear that one is not, would suggest to the receiver that the sender is indeed not sorry and wishes to clearly indicate so while also saying the very opposite.
While often thought of in terms of words, all four of these tropes can be seen in the use of images, sounds, and other symbols. They are the basic tools of rhetoric. How symbols (tropes or not) are put together, is centrally important to advertisements which rely upon forming the correct images in the minds of the audience in a small amount of time. How these signs are interpreted by the audience is the realm of semiotics. While the sign (or the signifier) can be intended to mean one thing, the received meaning (the signified) can be something completely different. The meaning of the signifier depends upon the worldview of the person who is exposed to it. Placed out of context, or devoid of some argument explaining its meaning, the sign will not stand for anything other than what it is.
Given the tools of rhetoric, tropes, and semiotics, Rose claims that his book will show (1) that ho scholars and the media discuss government advertising is too narrow and does not examine important questions about our democracy, and (2) that one can clearly show how symbols are used in government advertising and why then they can be understood to be contentious. Rose does recognize that not all government advertising works, and that some of it is viewed as being largely uncontroversial. Ads which promote exercise or safe driving, or ads where the link between the visual and the argument cannot be challenged are typically understood to be harmless. These ads are often referred to as "hard sells" because they do not try to manipulate, but state the facts, which can be unpleasant or uncomfortable.
However, other ads do work and are intended to manipulate the public. An example are those which use enthymemes, where one of the premises of the argument is left out for the audience to fill it in. This is often the strategy for contentious advertising campaigns since, with the absence of one of the premises, the ad appears to only be supplying the audience with information rather than making a contentious argument and attempting to persuade the audience. Advertisements for products of policies which are not contentious and/or have widespread support often do not use enthymemes, since the advertiser does not need to manipulate the public for support, but merely needs to remind the public of the issue which it already supports. However, as Rose's case studies will show, advertisements for contentious products or policies make greater use of signs or symbols (verbal and non-verbal) which the audience needs to actively decode.
Rose begins his first chapter by recognizing that all governments make use of communication with the public to either increase both the public's participation in public debate and its understanding of government services, or to manipulate the public to accept the policies and practices of the state. Borrowing from American political commentator, Walter Lippmann, Rose notes that one's understanding of the complex world often relies upon images one either creates of that world or which are given to one to use in forming decisions about the world. One's decisions are often not based upon true knowledge about the world, but upon images which are given to him/her. In the case of governments, the image which the public has of a government is often the image that the government has provided for the public to see.
In looking at how government's communicate, Rose does admit that some communication is sometimes intentional, sometimes subconscious, that it is sometimes made through words, sometimes through actions, and sometimes through images or symbols, but it always transmits information from one person to another. However, in the case of government communication, he asserts that it is always purposive and is always intended to, "elicit some behavioral or attitudinal change on the part of the public. communication by the government, therefore, is never 'innocent' in the sense of merely providing information or responding to public demand." (p 21) Furthermore, the messages given by the government can vary according to the groups to whom the messages are targeted. These different messages can also be provided via a number of different media. In our current age, advertising may have replaced politicians as the main means of communication between the government and the citizenry.
Whether advertising - a form of largely one-way communication - is an appropriate means for governments to communicate with the public can be influenced by the way in which one views the role of the government. If one takes the position of Edmond Burke, government is the elected representative of the people and should, once elected, be allowed to guide the public. It should not have to listen to the constantly changing views of the public and form policy to match those changing views. Thus, for a Burkean, government advertising can be used to guide and create public support of government policy. However, if one understands the role of government to be to reflect the opinion of the public (John Locke), than the legitimacy of government advertising is harder to accept. If the role of the government is to represent the current dominant views of society, then it should not be the role of the government to try and change the opinions of the public. According to Rose, the true test as to whether a particular government advertisement is legitimate it whether both those who take the Burkean position and those who feel that government should be the delegate of the people both view the advertisement a s legitimate and acceptable.
Rose also notes that while political advertisements may use both metaphor (use of an image to represent a less tangible quality or thing), metonymy (where something is not called by its own name but by something closely associated with it), and the other tools of rhetoric to communicate both implicit and explicit messages, the advertisements also say something about how both the speaker's the audience's view of reality at the time. If the audience does not misinterpret the meaning of the advertisement, or does not disagree with it, then the issue is not political. If, however, there is conflict, then at least parts of the audience do not agree with the view of reality offered by the speaker.
At the end of his section on "How Governments Advertise" Rose points out the benefits of analyzing advertising through both rhetoric and semiotic so as to gain some insight into how the meaning of an advertisement is created, and thus, how government advertising does, r in some cases does not work, to give governments power and legitimacy. He writes that, "Semiotics will help understand how meaning is understood by the receiver given the context of the communications. The rhetoric embedded in the communications plan, advertising strategy, and focus group results all provide us with some evidence of the goals of each advertising campaign and therefore tell us much about the intentions of the communicator. Rhetoric also provides an opportunity to explore the caliber and style of argumentation. It assumes that effective persuasion is dependent upon the organization of arguments." (p 25)
In his section "The Need For Government Communication" Rose notes that communication with the public is necessary for a government to maintain its legitimacy. This legitimacy is held if the public believes that the government is correct in its decisions and policies. Furthermore, legitimacy is required for a stable state. In the case of a government which is responding to the needs of the public, communication is needed so that the government can keep the public informed of what it is doing and how it is reacting to its concerns. However, communication can also be used to try and convince the public of the legitimacy of its actions, which may not be the desire of, or in the best interests of, the public. As advertising has come to play a larger role in government communication to the public, its tools of communication and persuasion have also been employed to show or convince the public that the government is acting in the public's best interests.
In his section on "The Role of Myths in State Communication" Rose notes that myths are a commonly used trope of government communication. These are signs which have one meaning and which are imbued with a greater secondary meaning. For example, the slogan "Je me souviens" reduces all Quebec history to the conquest of 1759. This is a form of Synecdoche, where a part is used to refer, or stand, for the whole. A single battle, or the suffering of particular individuals at particular times is used to refer to all of Quebec history. Mythic symbols and concepts are used to distract one's attention, or to give one an easy simplistic concept which stands in for highly complex situations. In one sense, the role of government communication is to create and spread myths about the nation. Some become so pervasive that they cease to be questioned. These myths say something about who we, as a group, are and what we stand for. However, all such myths are ideological, since they are all purposefully crafted. Furthermore, the myths help justify the agendas of governments, in that governments tend to perpetuate myths which are in line with their actions and policies.
In discussing how and when the government should use advertising to communicate with the public, Rose suggests that one could view the government as simply one voice creating myths, and that it is also one which can be countered and critiqued by the media. However, he also notes that the problem with such a view is that the government is often the loudest voice among many. Furthermore, it is the voice which regulates both other advertisers and the media. What is more, if one believes that the state has an obligation to communicate with its public so as to educate the public about the actions of the government, the role of the state, and how the public can benefit from state programs and participate in the democratic system, one must also acknowledge that governments often rationalize biased communication as being educational in character. The public is informed of the wisdom of the actions and policies of the government even when educating the public of these facts are not necessary but only serve to improve the public's perception of the government.
In his section on "The Administrative Imperative" Rose examines the argument that there are appropriate times at which the government should communicate with the public through advertising. The advertisement of new or updated policies could be seen as ensuring that all of the public has access to government services. This was one of the findings of the government's 1969 Task Force on Government Information. Information Canada was established so as to give the public access to information from and about the government to the population. Quoting from the 1992 Treasury Board Manual on Communications, Rose notes that the current communications rationale of the government is that advertising is used to rationalize the dissemination of government information. The manual states that good communications is essential for a functioning representative government, and that it is necessary for the achievement of government objectives. While, theoretically, this communication is to be two-way and is supposed to further the public's access to information, the reality is quite different. Not only can actions be taken to delay access to information, but how information is given to the public is not necessarily via a two-way communication and it may be biased in favour of government policies which are questionable in their being for the benefit of the public.
While the Task Force on Government Information was largely concerned with advertising to help the public gain better access to government services, Rose notes that there are other kinds of government advertising. In particular, he points out that there are generally three kinds of commercial government advertisements. These include ads for competitive government products (such as government savings bonds), ads for crown corporations, and ads for lotteries. By being commercial advertisements the purpose of such ads is to compete with the private sector, not to disseminate political propaganda. While certain tropes will be used in such ads, their primary purpose is to sell a product which the private sector is also trying to sell. However, where there is no competition for the market, then one cannot claim that the advertising has a purely commercial orientation. While such ads do have a function, it cannot be argued that it has anything to do with the administration of democracy.
In his section on the creation of "Political Culture" being an explanation for government advertising, Rose notes that in the creation and cementing of symbols and myths which resonate with the public, government is consciously trying to unify the population, all be it in a manner which accords with government ideology. However, the success of such myths or symbols depends upon the myth or symbol being closely tied to its referent. Once the primary and secondary meaning of the myth or symbol are separated, thus not seen as being obviously tied together, the symbol or myth may come to be seen as representing something other than what was intended. An example given by Rose is the fleur-de-lis. "For Quebeckers, the symbol of the fleur-de-lis may signify the historic struggle for Quebec culture and the importance of Quebec nationalism; for members of the Reform party, the same symbol may epitomize the domination of Quebec in political matters." (p 38)
While in the US, the bulk of government advertising expenditure is for administrative purposes (largely the Postal Service, the Army, and Amtrack), in Canada, the government not only spends proportionally much more, its expenditures have (in the 1990s) traditionally been concerned with national unity. Furthermore, Information Canada and Canadian Access to Information legislation were designed to allow for the public to have access to information in a timely manner, and so that the government could hear from the public when members of the public wished to voice their concerns about public administration. Furthermore, the CBC has been another example of encouraging communication between the government and citizens, and between citizens themselves. Thus, in Canada, governments have been involved in creating and enriching political culture more than the US government, and thus, Canadians have a certain tolerance for government communications. Rose will show how this tolerance for government communication can be manipulated for political ends, which, possibly because of the tolerance for government communications, is not criticized as much as could be the case for not just the expense, but the manner in which such seemingly unbiased communication, can be used to persuade and manipulate the public.
While this second chapter showed the different kinds of possible government advertisements and the kinds of reasons for which they could or should be made, Rose's subsequent chapter show what kinds of advertisements have been made over Canada's history and what kinds have been viewed by the public as acceptable or not, and why (semiotics).
Rose begins his second chapter by noting that while some work has been done on the history of commercial advertising, including advertising by political parties, little has been done on government advertising. Governments use advertising to not only inform the public about policies and actions, but to "communicate their successes, reward newspapers for favorable coverage, respond to opposition attacks in the press, or engage in foreign affairs." (page 45) The chapter examines, briefly, the history of government advertising in Canada from confederation up to 1976, when Information Canada was dissolved. These advertising campaigns have evolved from attempts to sell immigration to the west or for support of the war effort in the two World Wars, to sophisticated campaigns to sell federalism, government policies, or the virtues of being Canadian, all tested and designed with focus groups and input from experts human persuasion.
While Rose does mention several examples of preconfederation advertising by colonial governments of British North America, he begins his examination of Canadian government advertising with Ottawa's program to promote settlement in the Canadian west. Especially under the Department of Interior's direction of Clifford Sifton, Canada launched a calculated campaign to attract specific kinds of immigrants to the Canadian west. Focusing upon white settlers from Britain and the United States, as well as white central and eastern Europeans, the government produced literature in numerous languages, travelling lantern slide shows, and speaking tours which not only provided information in the language of the target audience, but even in a manner which would be understood as acceptable. In the case of the United States, literature was produced using American spelling. In Britain, the literature stressed the high numbers of English-speakers settling the west, so as to dispel British fears that the Canadian west was full of non-English settlers. What is more, the government's advertising campaign, while being overly optimistic and avoiding words like "cold" or "snow", but speaking of the favourable and invigorating weather of the country, was not opposed by the opposition for its substance. The opposition largely only criticized the campaign for its effectiveness relative to its cost.
Rose next examines Canada's advertising efforts during the First World War, focusing upon both the motivations of the government, in selling War Bonds and fostering support for the war, and the tactics employed to further these ends, including both appeals to negatives views of the enemy, patriotism, and emotional appeals. He then addresses the notion that such advertising can be viewed simply as a form of propaganda, or advertising designed to convince the public of the wisdom and acceptability of particular government positions or actions. He notes that these first large scale efforts at government propaganda were replicated in the Second World War, however, with the benefit of the developing social sciences which focused upon how and why particular groups of people tended to act and react to particular phenomena in certain ways. Advertising was carefully designed to appeal to specific groups of Canadians in particular ways so as to further the government's war effort. What is more during the war and interwar years the federal government not only grew in size, becoming increasingly responsible for providing public services, but it developed new means of communicating with the public. The Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission was established in 1932, replaced by the CBC in 1936. In 1939 the National Film Board was also established in order to make informational documentaries, including films designed to both inform the public about the war effort and convince the public of the success and just position of the nation.
The beginning of the war also saw the creation of the Bureau of Public Information, the first dedicated wartime information department. However, due to problems with its political legitimacy, it was replaced by the Wartime Information Board, which, after the war, became the Canadian Information Service. The purpose of the WIB and the CIS was to ensure that Canadians within the country and abroad were given necessary, clear, and accurate information about the government and the nation. After the war, the CIS, created in 1945, was foremost charged with creating and distributing references and information to Canadian representatives abroad. Criticized, not for the details of its work, but for its cost, the CIS was soon (1947) transferred to the Department of External Affairs to create and coordinate the provision of information about Canada and the Canadian government to officials at Canadian embassies throughout the world. However, the CIS was really just an interim measure as other departments (including Transport, Labour, Health, and Veterans Affairs, developed their own information services. Furthermore, the CBC news service and Radio-Canada's news services and reach had become important new tools of government communications strategy.
Rose begins his section "The Post-War Ear and Beyond: Decentralization and Diffusion" by noting that there were two reviews of government information services during the 1960s, the Glassco Commission and the Task Force on Government Information. Reporting in 1962, the Glassco Commission (or the Royal Commission on Government Organization) found that federal government information was not centrally planned and uncoordinated. Unlike in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, there was no central direction as to how government information was presented. Rather, different departments had their own, separate communications programs. The commission was not solely interested in the delivery of government information, but the organization of government in general. However, it found that in providing government information the various departments were entering contentious territory in that by not being consistent, the departments opened themselves up to charges of inconsistency and contradiction. It also stressed that controversy could arise in the advertising of departmental services in an inconsistent and uncoordinated manner.
The Task Force on Government Information reported in 1968, and while, unlike the Glassco Commission, it did had little to say about government advertising, it did report on the government's ability to coordinate information activities, projects to gather information on the concerns of Canadians, and to ensure the use of both official languages so as to strengthen national unity. Where the task force did discuss advertising, it viewed it as an efficient and good way to communicate information to the public. Moreover, however, it recommended the establishment of a centralized agency to coordinate and standardize the production and provision of government information. What Rose finds particularly striking is the task force's belief that government would not abuse its information gathering or provision powers, including in its use of advertising. Rather, it viewed advertising as tool that could simply assist in spreading messages intended to unify the country.
The main recommendations of the task force were:
1) To increase the public's understanding of government legislation, programs, and services.
2) The better explain the functioning and structure of government administration.
3) To promote the public's use of cultural institutions and the public's attending of cultural events.
4) To encourage both individuals and businesses to act to help serve various social objectives, which, unfortunately, the task force never defined.
Secondary recommendations included:
1) Recruiting good candidates for the civil service.
2) Increasing tourism advertising.
3) Advertising for semi-commercial ends, including the promotion of available goods such as new stamps, coins, or government publications.
The task force had been struck just as the government was preparing to pass the Official Languages Act, and during the Quiet Revolution, when unity of Canada was threatened and when the federal government desperately needed to be understood to be a unified and strong presence in the country and not a disorganized or uncoordinated institution. As part of this desire to appear coordinated and unified the government made good use of the centennial celebrations in 1967 to not only mark a symbolic event in the nation's history, but to emphasize the importance of federalism. Through symbols, music, and events, Ottawa attempted to give the appearance of being coordinated, attractive, and even leading the world by example in its hosting of the Expo67.
Rose notes that two of the influential federal symbols created during this period were the Canada Wordmark and the federal government logo (the bar and leaf logo). The letter of these was attacked at the time for looking very similar to the federal Liberal Party logo of the period. While the wordmark and the federal government symbol are used to stand for the institution, as in the case of corporations, they are also used in order to give legitimacy to allegedly non-political things, like Olympic uniforms or national birthday celebrations. Thus, they have a dual function. Furthermore, their use suggests information from bureaucrats who are only interested in fulfilling their assigned tasks, but they can also be used to give legitimacy to policies of the party in power, which is effectively the government.
Rose claims that by using the Wordmark as the logo for the federal government of Canada, the wordmark came to represent all of the products, services, and functions of the federal government. It was used to market and legitimize government action. The use of such a registered trademark in such a way indicated the federal government's wholesale embrace of the tactics of successful brand marketing.
Established the year after Expo 67, the Task Force on government Information recommended the establishment of Information Canada. Created in 1970, this organization was, according to the PM, supposed to: promote cooperation between federal government departments and agencies, to coordinate departmental policies across the government, and to more effectively learn about the concerns and needs of Canadians. However, as quoted in Robert Everett's thesis "Information Canada and the Politics of Participation" (1990), Trudeau believed that the real job of Information Canada was to sell the Government of Canada and its policies to the public, making use of all available technical means. This differed from the statement of the Treasury Board, which echoed the Prime Minister's official statement, by claiming the Information Canada was supposed to, "a) to ensure that federal government programs and policies are examined; b) to provide information feedback from Canadians to the government; c) to co-ordinate federal information campaigns and assist departments."
While allegedly supposed to not only disseminate government information, but to act as a means by which the public could voice their opinions, Rose explains that Information Canada was never allowed to actually fulfill its purpose of allowing for true participatory democracy. While advertisements for the government offered toll-free telephone numbers and tear-back forms to allow the public to voice their opinions, there never was any real dialogue between citizens and the government. Rather, the government followed its own agenda, regardless of any of the feedback it received.
During the first half of the decade two government reports found problems with Information Canada and its ability to fulfill its mandate of encouraging participatory democracy. The report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance found that while information Canada could provide information to the public, it was unable to assess public attitudes towards government programs since it could not force people to become interested in government policies or to discuss them. The second report was by the Privy Council Office, and which was concerned with information provision and protection, found the terms of reference for Information Canada were unclear, that it had weak relationships with different departments, that it could not direct and control the flow of government information, and that it did not have well trained staff members.
Rose assesses the organization as having bureaucratic and administrative problems, as is outlined y both reports, but also as having been seen by the public as little more than a propaganda office of the federal government, the media and public often referring to it as "PropCan." Furthermore, the notion that Information Canada could justify their advertising and publicity budgets through its ability to use advertising and publicity to gain feedback from the public was ill founded. Advertising and publicity rarely functions well as a feedback mechanism, but is typically a form of one-way communication. As is explained in Rose's second chapter, feedback is much more efficiently and effectively gained through public opinion polling and focus groups.
While the Trudeau government gave in to opposition pressure and criticism to close Information Canada by the end of 1976, Rose notes that the department may have had some positive qualities. He argues that it did offer the government a unified and centralized office which was attempting to coordinate government information, which is essential to a government which is attempting to offer an image of organization and coordination. Furthermore, being created at a time of growing separatist sentiment in Quebec, it may have played a role in reducing the attraction of separatism by offering information about the alternative position. However, concerning this latter point, Rose also notes that it is almost impossible to tell the effectiveness of any adverting campaign compared to other factors which could influence people's choices. Yet, Information Canada did act as a precursor to the Canadian Unity Information Office (CUIO), which the government would open in 1977 to counter the threat of separatism by both communicating information to the public and allegedly listening to its ideas and concerns.
Drawing conclusions from his overview of Canadian government advertising from confederation to 1976, Rose argues that the advertising campaigns of the wars were not seen as politically controversial since most of the country's federal politicians agreed with the purpose of the ads. The same can be said for the western settlement campaigns of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, although there was some debate over the efficiency of those campaigns. The same cannot be said for information Canada or the role it played in countering Quebec separatism. The latter being a more controversial campaign, it tended to make less use of hard-sell advertising tactics, recognizing that such a blunt approach would likely result in criticism from separatist forces. Campaigns with more widespread support can make use of ethical or emotional tactics of persuasion, while contentious campaigns use rational means of persuading the public. The rational approach appears more neutral and objective, and thus, less open to accusations of manipulation. Furthermore, non-contentious campaigns tend to make use of more provocative visual images, where as more informational images as well as text tend to be used in more contentious campaigns.
In his third chapter, Rose examines the structure of government advertising, and how it is both highly centralized and controlled. Up to the 1960s this was not the case, which resulted in uncoordinated campaigns. In examining the production of government advertising campaigns, Rose looks at both how federal advertising campaigns are organized and coordinated within government, but also the role of advertising agencies. Rose shows through his examination that there has been an increase in both the centralization of the federal government's advertising programs, as well as a greater reliance upon private advertising agencies to both produce the campaigns, but also make use of tactics which have been produced for corporate advertising campaigns to sell products. He suggests that these trends could be detrimental to the real purposes of government.
Government policy, and thus the policies which are behind advertising campaigns, are coordinated by the Privy Council Office, which implements the communications needs of the cabinet. The decisions about how advertising contracts are to be made and how such policy and advertising decisions are going to be implemented by various government departments are made by the Communication Coordination Services Branch of Public Works and Government Services Canada. however, the details about the content of the advertisements and the tools and approaches used are typically made by the advertising agencies hired to produce the ads. Thus, the advertising agencies can affect the message of the ads and the norms and codes employed. These agencies typically use the same language, codes, and approaches used in government advertising which are employed in commercial advertising. However, Rose argues that the use of the same tactics to sell products as policies or political platforms results in "a debasement of the political process and a denigration of our political vocabulary." (page 80)
within the government the office with has formal authority over government communications is the Privy Council Office, and particularly its Communications Secretariat, which is to a) advise government organizations of the priorities and themes which are to be reflected in their communications, b) provide government-wide communications leadership, c) as well as collect information on the public so as to advise the Prime Minister. In addition, the Treasury Board approves all government policies on communications and also reviews all advertising expenditures for all departments. It reviews all advertising expenditure request and evaluates whether they accord with the government's declared priorities.
The centralization of government advertising and policy management began in the 1960s with the recommendations of the 1968 Task force on Government Information, including the recommendation for the creation of Information Canada. Thus, the PCO and the Treasury Board advertising responsibilities are largely concerned with ensuring that the government's advertisements are coherent and consistent. Furthermore, there exists a Cabinet Committee on Communications. this committee was formed under Prime Minister Trudeau and is now used for cabinet ministers to create coordination in the communications, including advertising, between their different departments and agencies. However, this committee is not always used and depends upon the extent to which its chair is interested in ensuring such coordination. This committee allegedly approves the testing and release of all advertising and public service announcements. This is done through communications plans which are attached to all cabinet documents. The plans consist of background information on the policy, any public opinion research on the policy, any other public responses to the policy, as well as an outline of the advertising which will be required for the policy. The committee's most important task, however, is approving general communications plans at the beginning of each year, and one of the main jobs of the chair is to ensure that the activities of each of the ministers reflects the communications plan agreed upon each year. This is particularly important in a world where ministers are often interested in ensuring the support of particular groups who are effected by their departments or agencies. Ministers do not like delivering bad news, and will avoid it if it could harm their future electoral fortunes. However, the Prime Minister needs to ensure that all of his ministers are speaking with one voice and that that voice accords with agreed upon government policy.
The decisions of the Cabinet Committee on Communications are implemented by the Privy Council Communications Secretariat. By coordinating and keeping abreast of the various communications efforts of the government, the Privy Council Communications Secretariat allows the Prime Minister and the cabinet to be easily kept abreast of those communications efforts. The bookkeeping, advertising shopping, bill payments are all done by the Communication Coordination Services Branch or Public Works and Government Supply Canada. As the largest advertiser in the country, this small unit is the largest clearinghouse of advertising in the country. Created in 1998, this branch oversees both advertising and public opinion research. It had its origins in the Advertising Management Group, created in 1979, so that advertising contracts would be centralized and could benefit from advantages of scale.
Rose claims that the centralization of the federal government's communications strategy began after the Second World War. Designed to give Ottawa a coordinated and strong corporate image. Much of this image has been produced through advertising which has been produced by advertising agencies. As the government's use of and reliance upon advertising has increased, the government has relied increasingly upon creative decisions which are made by private advertising firms. Thus, the agencies play an important role in legitimizing the government through the creative and persuasive tactics they employ. Rose seen this outsourcing of how policies are sold to the public is harmful to Canadian democracy. The decisions are not made in parliament or in cabinet, but by the hired advertising agencies.
Rose begins his section "The Shop Floor: Advertising as Agents of Mass Socialization" by noting that in the case of federal government advertising, tat being sold to the public are myths about how policies or actions are in keeping with a mythical national identity. Thus, the government increasingly depends upon advertising agencies to create national symbols. These ads are also the result of input from a number of specialists, each of which bring their knowledge and specialized skills to shaping, and thus, coding the advertisement to trigger particular ideas and feelings in the audience. These can include copywriters, art directors, account executives, graphic designers, and photographers, set designers, actors, camera operators, and other specialists involved in the creation of the advertisement. However, Rose notes that, unlike in commercial ads, government ads are not trying to persuade the public to buy a particular product. Rather, their point is often to create support for government policies or to create ideas of shared identity through the use of images and symbols. Unlike in the case of commercial ads, the public cannot voice its disapproval by not purchasing a product, but it must live with the policy if it is maintained by the government. Yet, while using many of the same advertising techniques, government ads, unlike most commercial ads, are often criticized by the public and the media.
Rose notes that, while similar in the manner in which they are created, a difference between the creation of government and corporate advertising is that, especially in the past, Canadian government advertising has often been conducted by agencies which were aligned with particular political parties. Beginning with the First World War, Rose explains that the advertising agency which explained the Military Service Act to Canadians in 1917 was then awarded the contracts for publicity campaigns of the Union Government.
The connections between specific parties and specific advertising agencies are explained by both the survival of the parties and the advertising agencies. The government may retain specific agencies as a form of reward for work which was volunteered by the agency to the now governing party during an election campaign, or it may choose a specific agency for work which was seen as successful in having a leader or the party elected to office. In the case of the agencies, as Reg Whitaker has pointed out in his study of Liberal advertising agencies, they recognize that certain parties express the political and economic ideals which are beneficial to advertising firms. Parties which do not have the money for large campaigns, or which reject political advertising as propaganda and contrary to their political ideals, or reject the kind of advertising that a particular firm specializes in, would not attract the interest of such agencies. Agencies require money and the political will to purchase advertising which the agency is able and willing to produce. thus, particular firms know that particular parties will protect their long-term economic interests.
Whitaker explains that, in the case of the Liberal Party, the party in power for much of the 20th century, it benefitted from the formal and informal relationship between the party, the advertising agency of Cockfield Brown, and the government. As the agency was retained for various jobs, the government's policies and programs gained acceptance from the public, and as the public was satisfied with the leadership of the country, the Liberal Party benefitted from remaining in power. Examples of the close informal connections included the example of the senior partner of Cockfield Brown, Harry Cockfield, being chairman of the war bon drive in 1940. His firm was also one of the major advertisers for the war bond drive. In the 1949 and 1953 election campaigns the same firm was responsible for engineering the image of Louis St. Laurent being a benevolent and appealing uncle-like figure, rather than a calculating political leader. Indeed, Whitaker claims that in 1943 a formal agreement was signed making Cockfield Brown the Liberal Party's long-term and only national advertising agency. This formal relationship between the agency and the government was so close and so all encompassing that by the 1960s several of the agency's advertising staff were given lucrative government positions, with several being appointed to the senate and two sent to work for the Canadian embassy in Washington.
While officially secret arrangements, Rose claims that it is known which agencies benefitted from connections to particular parties. Following the Liberal loss in the 1958 federal election the firm of Maclaren was viewed by many Liberals as the firm of choice, while Vickers and Benson benefitted from personal connections with one Montreal Liberal MP. Furthermore, as governing parties change, so do the fortunes of advertising firms. An agency which is tied to a particular party which is removed from office often means that the agency is then typically barred from any work which is required by the new party in power. This was the case for Walsh Advertising, which had been one of the firms regularly used by the Liberal government before their 1957 election defeat. After the election, Walsh did not receive any contracts from the new Progressive Conservative government.
The amount of money which an agency could hope to gain through government contracts in reward for helping, or volunteering, the winning party during the election campaign more than made up for any donations in time and talent the firm might make to the party in the election. Indeed, both Whitaker and Calton McNaught suggest that these benefits played a large role in the early development of Canadian advertising agencies. However, being closely attached to a political party which lost an election could also be devastating to the future of an advertising agency, as was the case with Cockfield Brown after the 1957 Liberal loss. To further their chances, agencies which are associated with particular parties have also been known to form alliances at election time, donating their services together to a particular party so as to mutually benefit from the contracts which would be awarded should the party take power. This was the case in 1972 with the formation of the consortium, Red Leaf Communications, which did work for the Liberal Party.
In his section on "Focus Groups and the Test-Marketing of Politics" Rose explains that the advertising tool of focus groups involves showing proposed advertisements to groups of "average" members of the target audience. Based upon their reactions, the wording, tone, or even approach of the ad may be altered so as to have the ad be as effective as possible. However, this approach often results in advertisements being made more simplistic and reinforcing preexisting prejudices. Indeed, referencing the Second World War work of the sociologist Robert K. Merton, Rose suggests that advertisements which are changed as a result of focus group do not tend to educate their audience, but conform preexisting ideas. Rose believes that this tactic of political advertizing, which only encourage unreflexive thought which is not critical of the issues at stake is damaging to society and the political process. these ads appeal to the predispositions of the public, which advertisers know are easier to convince the public of than new ideas which challenge traditional ways of thinking or acting. According to Rose, this is troubling since it does not allow for the education of the public by either the public or political parties. New, better, approaches to policy or governing are either ignored or denigrated as being too different to be acceptable. While Rose admits that such focus group based advertising might be useful in refining particular messages, he claims that it does nothing to further informed public debate over issues.
In the final section of the chapter, "Making Pictures in Our Heads," Rose claims that Walter Lippmann’s phrase refers to the creation of public opinion, a process which often involves advertising. The appropriate use of rhetorical strategies and images advertisements cause people to understand the world in particular ways. This work is conducted by advertising agencies, who are interested in changing the beliefs, desires, and wants of the public. Furthermore, Rose notes that advertising which makes use of images, be they symbols or locations, are often more influential than those which use language. Thus, governments often make use of images which have associated or useful preformed meanings in order to make affect the manner in which the public views reality. A political speech may make a particular point, but when accompanied by relevant images which reinforce the power and size of the country, influential past accomplishments, etc. the content of the speech becomes more memorable and linked to pre-formed ideas. Yet, where advertising is contentious, appeals to emotions or the use of highly evocative symbols are typically avoided and arguments are presented in a factual manner. In the case of non-contentious ads, however, the lack of any real opposition means that advertisers to take great liberties in their manipulation of the public without having to worry about opposition criticism.
Following his first three chapters discussed above, Rose offers three case studies of how the government of Canada advertised to Canadians. Through the cases of the 1980 Quebec referendum, the repatriation of the constitution in 1982, and the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1988, Rose examines the tactics used by the government, why they were employed, and the effect(s) they had upon the Canadian public. This is followed by a concluding chapter in which he discusses commonalities and differences between these different examples, and thus, contextualizing many of the issues raised in the book's introduction and first three chapters.