UPDATED: Sterling, Cooper ... Giorno? ITQ investigates the shadowy world of PMO's in-house ad shop

As GiornoWatch enthusiasts no doubt recall from previous dispatches, the fact that PMO has its very own in-house advertising department — or advertising and market research unit, to use its official title — is not, technically, news — not, at least, to those with a borderline obsessive interest in the ins and outs of Langevinian palace intrigue.

The two-person team that now reports directly to the Chief of Staff himself first came into existence back in 2007 or so, when it was part of the sprawling territory of the Muttartian Empire  — or “Strategy”, as it was far less evocatively described on the official PMO org chart. In fact, it was wasn’t until the Dark Lord of Demographancy’s departure earlier this year that it ascended to independent unitdom — or as independent as a unit can be when it falls under the control of the Giornoverseer General.

What it actually does, however, is another question.

According to that same Treasury Board site that revealed how the $34 million in Action! Plan advertising was spread across four separate departments, the Privy Council Office — which is accountable for PMO’s budget — has proposed only one “major advertising initiative” since this government took office in 2006: a comparatively modest  $500,000 proposal to “advertise corporate identity”, which was approved during the last quarter, which covers April-June 2009.

A quick check of the proactive disclosure filings for that quarter fails to turn up any contract for advertising services, although it’s always possible that it was tendered through Public Works and Government Services Canada and hasn’t yet been added to the PCO site.

Not all advertising requires cabinet approval, of course: departments are free to launch  “small advertising initiatives on their programs and services”or for statutory purposes aimed at specific domestic or international audiences” — provided that those campaigns are covered by their existing budget. But according to the last available report on government advertising, PCO spent no money on advertising during the 2007-2008 fiscal year, and just $160,000 the year before.

So what exactly does Guy Giorno’s little ad shop do all day, if they don’t have an ad budget of their own? ITQ has dropped a note to PMO to find out, and as soon as she hears back, she’ll post an update.

NOT-MUCH-OF-AN-UPDATE-REALLY: Just received the following from the always prompt and attentive PMO spokesperson Andrew MacDougall:

“That information is on the website.  And their positions are a matter of public record.  Enjoy your weekend.”

Which … isn’t really much of an answer, since as far as she can see, the only available information is their titles, which are listed on GEDS.  Not that ITQ holds it against him, just as she’s sure he won’t hold it against her when she takes this as a green light to keep digging away at the question. (And she hopes he enjoys his weekend, too.)

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