All hail the Government

I didn’t intend for the title to sound so 1984-ish, but let’s get on with what I want to say.

Yesterday two people I know remarked that people have not really recognised the impact of the current economic downturn – one works in the finance industry and one in advertising (that’s you, Charles!). Most people are calling it the worst economic upheaval since the depression of 1929.

As the fortunes of the economy continue to tumble, I realise what an important role the Government is assuming in this situation. Whether it is the US Government’s $700 billion bailout of the troubled US banks or the UK Government’s £500 billion one for the UK ones – the latest is that the eight biggest UK banks are being part-nationalised – this much is clear: the government is the biggest client any non-banking company can have at the moment. In the case of banks of course, the government is literally Jesus/Vishnu/Allah/whatever, so the word ‘client’ doesn’t come into play.

And the reason the Government is big business is because everyone else is busy cutting costs.

That’s where agencies need to be focusing their efforts, because that’s where they’re going to win the pitches that will tide them over till the situation abates. Sure, the other pitches will be there and do need to be won, but the bigger chunks – and I’m making a reasonably educated guess here – will come from government business.

The government’s always been there. Most people just take them for granted. When it’s crunch time like it is now, much as people may hate it, there is no other option but to elevate them from the background to the lead role.

Equally significantly though, the Government is now forced to keep on the ball if they want to gain public confidence, and retain or gain power as the case may be. The governments in power in the US and the UK, two of the West’s most powerful economies, are witnessing considerable shifts in public approval ratings in the current economic situation. Governments are picking up on the fact that most people are moving online, and all media has an online presence (TV channels and radio stations have websites etc.). Therefore, they are forced to become more tech-savvy than they were. Note the huge amount of money and support that Barack Obama has raised for his presidential campaign through the internet. In fact, apparently the Tories in the UK have recently started a blog, even as they’ve concluded a rather high-profile party conference, and the Labour party already has a reasonably Web 2.0 site, replete with YouTube videos et al. Noticeable, however, is the lack of a blog. I suspect they’ll pick up on that soon enough. 

We live in interesting times.

(Image by Michael Kountouris)

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