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April 9, 2001

By Ira Teinowitz

WASHINGTON ( -- The government giveth and the government taketh away in terms of ad campaigns.

Just days after the

Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta began seeking proposals from ad agencies for an integrated $125 million annual ad campaign/public relations effort that targets children's obesity, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced the program would end after one year. The center was offering a contract for up to five years, though it only has money for a one-year campaign.

A better use for the money
Unveiling his budget today, Mr. Thompson said his department had better use for the money.

"There is no question that's a good program," Mr. Thompson said at a briefing today. "The question is, We think we can use that money better in community health centers. And so we made the decision of putting it into community health centers."

The decision wasn't entirely a surprise. The ad campaign had been pushed last year by John Porter, a former Republican congressman from Illinois who has since retired, and the fate of the program without a congressional champion had been pretty uncertain.

While the Centers for Disease Control program will end, the Bush administration decided to continue the anti-drug program headed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. (Media companies provide a free ad or content of equal value for every paid ad). WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, handles that campaign, which spends about $150 million yearly on anti-drug ads, using creative from the Partnership for Drug Free America.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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