In a nation famous worldwide for its creativity – in fields as varied as literature, cinema, and official economic statistics – an increase in advertising spend could be a cause for celebration. The more money a client spends on advertising, the more entertaining and effective the advertising (and in theory, sales of the product) should be.

Yet in Argentina – where the client in question is the taxpayer and the product is the policies of an unpopular president – more money spent on creativity might not be a good thing.

An interesting report today in La Nacion mentions that government spending on advertising has increased each year since 2003, the first year Nestor Kirchner was elected President. Between 2008 and 2009, spending on “institutional advertising and communication campaigns” increased 110 percent, from ARG $395 million pesos (US $101 million) to ARG $829 million pesos (US $213 million).

The media spend can be found at the Cabinet Headquarters website.

Not surprisingly, 75 percent of the 2009 spending occurred during the first half of the year, when the government faced crucial midterm elections in June 2009. The government received an additional ARG $600 million (US $154 million) boost through a contract with Fox Sports FĂștbol para todos, a widely viewed show about soccer throughout Latin America.

More interesting than the amount spent is the way the government chose to spend it. During the second half of 2009, the two largest recipients were the Agencia Federal de Ingresos Publicos (AFIP, Argentina’s tax collectors) and the Presidencia de la Nacion.

The AFIP ads present a particularly interesting tactic – spending taxpayer money to create an ad encouraging people to pay their taxes.

LatAmThought has written about government advertising campaigns in the past. When the amount spent on advertising becomes public, governments may face the backlash of having to deal with the negativity associated with spending money on advertising instead of infrastructure, education, security, or any other myriad public works that need funding. This flack may negate any progress.