How it works

Advertising is an important way for the Government of Canada to communicate with Canadians about policies, programs, services and initiatives, public rights and responsibilities, and risks to public health, safety and the environment.

This section explains the roles and responsibilities, as well as the process for government advertising which applies to all federal institutions under Schedules I, I.1, II of the Financial Administration Act (FAA).

Roles and responsibilities

The Government of Canada advertising process involves many stakeholders and is designed to ensure that advertising activities align with government priorities, meet the communication needs of Canadians, comply with Acts, policies and procedures, and provide value for money. Each stakeholder has specific responsibilities. Departments are ultimately accountable for their advertising activities.

Each year, the Privy Council Office (PCO) works with departments to develop a Government of Canada advertising plan that supports the priorities identified in the Speech from the Throne and the Budget. Once approved by Cabinet, the plan is submitted to Treasury Board for funding approval. Once funding is secured, departments work with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to implement their campaigns. PSPC contracts the advertising agencies, reviews creative materials and media plans for compliance to acts and policies, and manages the government's Agency of Record. PCO provides critical oversight throughout the process. Departments evaluate campaign performance and report on results.

The process

Planning a campaign

Departments work with the PCO to develop advertising proposals. The proposal provides a detailed overview of the advertising campaign, including its objective, key messages, and the government priorities it supports. Departments also consult with each other to identify areas of common interest and opportunities to collaborate.

Securing a contract

Once campaign and funding approvals have been given, departments consult with PSPC regarding contracting options for advertising services. These options include:

PSPC issues all advertising-related contracts on behalf of departments.

Working with advertising agencies

With a contract in place, departments work with their lead agency to provide strategic advice and to produce campaign creative concepts based on the objectives of their campaign. Departments work with the Agency of Record (AOR) to develop media plans.

Advertising campaigns must meet all related Government of Canada legislation, policies and standards, including those set out in the Federal Identity Program Policy, Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, Contracting Policy and the Official Languages Act, as well as related policies and directives.

Departments approve all production estimates and schedules, and are responsible for financial and administrative procedures including documenting their campaigns in the Advertising Management Information System (AdMIS).

Testing the creative

For large campaigns, the creative concepts are pre-tested with the target audience. If changes to the creative concepts are needed, the department works with their advertising agency to revise advertising materials as required.

Reviewing for compliance

Departments provide final creative and media plans to PSPC who reviews for compliance with applicable legislation, policies, and standards.

PSPC issues an ADV number authorizing the AOR to purchase the media space and time identified in the media plan.

Evaluating the campaign and reporting results

Departments track campaign results using a variety of metrics. For campaigns with a media component of $1,000,000 or more, departments conduct a mandatory, standardized post-campaign evaluation. The evaluation tracks audience recall of the campaign and gauges audiences' understanding and response to the advertisement.