The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is running advertisements to persuade Americans to sign up for food stamps.
(We’ll pause a moment to allow you to reread that sentence.)
The ads, which can be heard locally on New York CBS-owned radio stations such as WCBS (880 AM), feature two (apparently) older African-American ladies, one of whom compliments the other on her healthy appearance. The latter confides that she uses food stamps to buy healthy foods “including fruits and vegetables.” Then the first woman reveals that she, too, also uses food stamps. They share a giggle.
When we heard these we hoped that they were free public-service announcements aired at the generosity of the stations, with no taxpayer dollars involved. No such luck.
We asked Hans Bilger of the USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service in Washington, D.C. He acknowledged that the ad agency Fleishman Hilliard created ten spots for the USDA, five for paid commercials and five for PSAs. (There are also TV spots that aired on Spanish-language stations only, Bilger told BNH.)
He said the department spends “approximately $2.5 [million] to $3 million a year” on radio ads for the program now known by the benign euphemism the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
This is so wrong.
We are now spending taxpayers’ money to get more people on the public dole? Really?
According to USDA figures from late last year, there were some 46 million Americans — almost 15 percent of the entire population — receiving food stamps. That’s an all-time high.
Are there really people who qualify for food stamps who don’t know they exist? Wouldn’t it behoove the government to run ads encouraging people to get off of government assistance?
That the government is using our money to persuade more Americans to jump onto the public dole offers powerful ammunition to those who argue that the current administration seeks to make more Americans dependent on, and indebted to, the party that currently controls the White House.
The state will spend $27 million over the next 24 months to lure new visitors to Connecticut. Whether that’s a good investment or not, only time will tell.
The theme of the campaign is “Connecticut: Still Revolutionary.” (Not exactly “Virginia Is for Lovers” or “I [Heart] New York.”)
But if the objective is to try to bring more tourism into the state, there’s one little problem: The advertising agencies selected by the state to draft the campaign are not in Connecticut. Is it just us, or does that seem totally wrong?
The state’s Department of Economic & Community Development, which oversees the Office of Culture & Tourism, selected a New York marketing firm, Chowder Inc., to create the advertisements for the “Still Revolutionary” campaign, and paid it $500,000 for the creative work.
Noted former WFSB-TV news executive Dick Ahles in an editorial for the New London Day, “Connecticut, despite its many achievements, is apparently yet to produce an advertising agency worthy of promoting Connecticut.”
We couldn’t agree more.