Feed and fatten the pig, for the slaughter?
March 14, 2008 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Economicsfilter: Why has the federal government allowed the Ad Council to put on the Feed the Pig set of public service announcements in light of the $168 billion economic stimulus plan?

So it seems that the Ad Council has put out a campaign to get Americans to save money. Meanwhile the federal government gives citizens money to spend it. So does the federal government want people to take their rebate, pay down their debt and "feed the pig" or spend it on a flat screen?
posted by JimmyJames to Law & Government (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have nothing other than my memory to back me up, but I recall seeing the "Feed the Pig" commercials at least as far back as this past summer, before the "oh noes, recession!" talk that jump-started the stimulus plan got going.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:58 PM on March 14, 2008

The Ad Council is not part of the government. The "Feed the Pig" campaign appears to be sponsored by the AICPA.
posted by equalpants at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2008

Because the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is up to?

Government-sponsored public service announcements are not always (never?) well coordinated with other aspects of policy.
posted by rtha at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2008

But why wouldn't they have axed it?
posted by JimmyJames at 1:00 PM on March 14, 2008

There are few human institutions less monolithic than the Federal Government of the United States of America. To ascribe to the government itself teleological intent is to fundamentally misunderstand how it functions.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:01 PM on March 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

But why wouldn't they have axed it?

The First Amendment? We're talking about the United States, not North Korea. The government does not run the media.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2008

Also, the Ad Council is not a governmental agency. They're private, though they sometimes undertake government-sponsored campaigns. The campaign you are concerned with does not appear to be government-sponsored.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2008

The Ad Council is not part of the federal government. Wikipedia:

The Advertising Council, commonly known as the Ad Council, is an American privately funded non-profit organization that distributes public service announcements on behalf of various sponsors, including non-profit organizations and agencies of the United States government.

The Advertising Council generally does not produce public service advertisements itself, rather, it acts as a coordinator and distributor. The Advertising Council accepts requests from sponsor organizations for advertising campaigns that focus on particular social issues. To qualify, an issue must be non-partisan and have national relevance. The Advertising Council then assigns each campaign to a volunteer advertising agency that produces the actual advertisements. Finally, the Advertising Council distributes the finished advertisements to media outlets.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:11 PM on March 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

The First Amendment? We're talking about the United States, not North Korea. The government does not run the media.

I just assumed that because the Federal government uses the Ad Council so much for so many of their other campaigns that they would hold some sway. Is it at all similar to how private companies can threaten to pull ads from "undesirable" television shows/news programs in order to influence content?
posted by JimmyJames at 1:17 PM on March 14, 2008

The Federal government could, it is true, ask that an ad like this be removed. But it would require the attention of a bureaucrat in a section of a division of a department. Usually the Federal government will respond to something like this only if it involves drugs, sex, a singer's breast seen in milliseconds of exposure, etc.
posted by yclipse at 4:25 PM on March 14, 2008

The two positions aren't at all incompatible with one another. Feed the pig says be sure to save part of your income. The stimulus package says here's some unexpected money: kick it back into the economy.

We intend to buy some toys with our stimulus money that we have wanted but didn't budget for. But we'll still save with each paycheck like we always have. I think the government would pat us on the head for being good citizens, not chide us for holding back our paycheck during our stimulus-check shopping spree.
posted by AgentRocket at 7:35 PM on March 14, 2008

I think you're trying to reconcile a disparity between short-term and long-term goals. Yes, the government wants you to spend your tax refund. Yes, the government wants you to feed the pig. Those two statements may seem contradictory, but the government wants you to do one TODAY and the other EVERY DAY.

The masterminds of the tax rebate believe that putting cash back into the hands of the people will result in increased consumption that will spur the economy. When people are confident in the economy, they usually do spend windfalls. However, it looks like people are choosing to save or pay down existing debt with their rebates because they are concerned that the economy is worsening and they won't be able to pay their bills in the future.

In the long run, the government wants to increase the personal savings rate and is actively working to get people to reduce consumption and increase savings. (You may be interested in the US Financial Literacy and Education Commission's website.) What the government wants, though, is for you to make a habit of saving $50 per month. Over time, that's a much better deal than saving a $600 tax rebate once a year.

So even though the "Feed the Pig" campaign isn't sponsored by the government, it is in line with the government's desire to improve financial literacy and increase the savings rate.
posted by weebil at 7:38 PM on March 14, 2008

Paying down debt could inspire more spending, a person would feel like they didn't have the burden of the loan/credit card balance/etc. (of course along with what everyone else said, media isn't government run, free speech, etc.)
posted by whiskey point at 8:54 AM on March 15, 2008

This phenomenon isn't unique to the federal government, by the way. Each time a group of CXOs of some former company had changed their mission statement (usually after a consultant-led retreat), it literally had taken months and sometimes years to migrate the whole organization.

It's probably a function of the organizational structure. How many people are in the organization? How effective are the formal and informal communication channels? How decentralized is the organization? Is the management structure command-and-control based?

Technically an effective executive should be able to switch the organization rapidly, but we currently have a lame duck.
posted by brandnew at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2008

« Older Helping a friend from a distance...   |   Help a 22-year-old female deal with a relapse of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.