Monday, April 11, 2016

Is this the most expensive leaflet ever?

The news that the UK Government is picking up an Invoice somewhere in excess of 9 million pound  for a leaflet promoting their case for the EU, has left many people stunned. How could a slim 16 page, landscape brochure possibly cost so much?

A copy of this document arrived at our home today and if had not been for the outcry the leaflet had generated it would probably been consigned directly to the recycling bin. Apparently the brief to whoever designed the leaflet was to provide 'The Facts' about continued British membership of the European Union. Sort of like a 'White Paper' we advise our 'knowledgeable' b-2-b clients to produce to explain the background to the state of knowledge etc. within the market relevant to their products. Such a White Paper in the b-2-b world would be written by an expert in the field and would outline the state of knowledge, the technologies, legislation, international standards etc and provide references to factual sources, to give the prospective buyer a fair view of the market sector and provide a useful background against which to make the eventual product purchase decision.

So does this leaflet meet these lofty aims - is it a document packed with essential facts and evidence offering a 'state of play' independent statement on the actual situation, or is it as opponents claim merely propaganda for one side of the referendum debate?

The design is rather bland, dated and unexciting. I  cannot imagine any of our clients however mundane their products might be, being excited or impressed when the agency account manager presented the concept at the agency/client meeting. I wouldn't have let it get outside the design studio if it were me. And I  wonder how discretely the value of the invoice was introduced? In hushed aside, "I  have put the 'paper work' in this envelope Prime Minister if you would be kind enough to pop it round to George to look after." Of course a lot of the cost is delivering something like 27 million copies to every home in the land. So why print a few rain forests worth of brochures in the first place and not go online?

Lets have a quick look inside the less than memorable front cover where we discover the style is left hand page 'facts' right hand facing page a picture. This is it:-

  • 'An important decision for the UK' - opposite a photograph of a calendar with 23rd June ringed round.
  • 'A stronger economy' - a mainly fuzzy out of focus photo of two men in blue overalls apparently doing something with some  metal parts with the statement 'Over 3 million UK  jobs linked to exports to the EU'.
  • 'Improving our lives' - photo of an old wire hand held supermarket basket containing some oranges.
  • 'What happens if we leave' - photo of container ships most likely delivering manufactured good from China.
  • 'Controlling immigration and securing our borders' - photo of UK Border sign white text and blue background
  • 'The benefits of EU membership' - photo of a group of four people in a kitchen, two ladies sitting at a table a lady possibly cutting oranges - same prop as in the earlier photo? - and a man polishing a mug with a tea towel. Strange.
  • A once in a generation decision - photo of young couple carrying a baby.
Where figures, or indeed any facts are quoted, there is no reference to the source or interpretation of what they mean. I wonder if the client thinks it is money well spent?

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