Art & Commerce

Happy Returns Advertising agencies use their clients’ products or services whenever possible. Bozell, for example, bought financial advice from Merrill Lynch when doing its big deal with True North since, at the time, Merrill was buying ads from Bozell. Clients have a somewhat lesser loyalty; in this example, Bozell and Merrill parted ways shortly after the deal work was done. At this time of year, and only for an instant, ad people themselves become like clients–paying, instead of being paid–as they square up with Uncle Sam. After a year like 1997, the taxman’s take from the ad industry will be bounteous. The three largest publicly owned ad companies–Interpublic, Omnicom and True North–forked over an aggregate of $123.5 million to the IRS in 1997. With bonuses and stock options kicking in for the industry’s senior executives, the take from individual 1040s, due this Wednesday, will be bigger than ever. And how, in return, does the IRS treat its munificent benefactors? Competitive Media Reporting has identified 122 U.S. government advertising “brands,” spending, among them, $325 million a year. Who barely makes the top 50? The Internal Revenue Service, at a measly (and ungrateful) 360 grand. –Alan Gottesman (west endal is principal of West End Consulting.

Ad outlays for 122 federal “brands” are tabulated by CMR. The U.S. Postal Service, at $130 million, is the biggest ad client. Here are some others.

…..Federal brand…..’97 ad spending
…..U.S. Bankruptcy Court…..$1,156.1
…..Dinero Seguro Consumer Services…..660.6
…..U.S. Secret Service…..462.2
…..Central Intelligence Agency Recruitment…..93.7
…..U.S. Sentencing Commission…..49.8
…..101st Airborne Air Show…..17.5

Source: Competitive Media Reporting. Figures in thousands of dollars