Gov’t vetting partnership issue

Health Canada has delayed announcing the winners of its search for companies to help it develop marketing partnerships with the corporate sector.Lisa Allaire, Health Canada promotion director, says she has no idea when the federal government department will make an announcement.Allaire...

Health Canada has delayed announcing the winners of its search for companies to help it develop marketing partnerships with the corporate sector.

Lisa Allaire, Health Canada promotion director, says she has no idea when the federal government department will make an announcement.

Allaire says the entire process is now being reviewed at the ministerial level to make sure ‘everything is clean’ and not open to controversy.

She says confusion about the search within the advertising industry and in the trade press prompted the ministerial involvement.

Industry speculation had it that Health Canada was looking for ad agencies, but was conducting the search outside the normal channel of the Advertising Management Group, the bureau that awards federal government advertising contracts.

Allaire says the search was not for companies to provide advertising services, but rather to define sponsorship potential and get corporate involvement for Health Canada programs.

She points to the recent example of Health Canada’s joint initiative with Kellogg Canada, which stresses the nutritional and social importance of breakfast for families.

‘Standing offer’

The advertising industry was also confused by Health Canada’s request for ‘standing offer’ tenders.

That request was put out through the open bidding system of Canada Communication Group, a division of Government Services Canada.

That means the company that can provide the required services at the lowest cost wins the chance to work on Health Canada programs on an as-needed basis.

Allaire says several public relations firms have entered the competition, although she says some of the work may just entail the distribution of government materials for various programs.

The budget for the five programs amounts to more than $3 million, but Allaire says that is a ceiling figure and not the amount to be spent on the projects.

One company will be chosen to represent each program, and some programs may not see any action at all.

The Health Canada programs involved are anti-smoking, national drug strategy, Vitality, Brighter Futures and Healthy Environment.

Ad agency searches for Health Canada and other government accounts will begin when the Advertising Management Group releases new guidelines and procedures for agency selection next month. PS