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Advertising campaigns over $1 million

It’s never been more important that your advertising is effective, efficient and in the interest of NSW customers. Know what rules apply to your campaign and your responsibilities.

On this page

In brief

You are legally required to:

You should also:

Read below for more detailed information

Complying with the Act, Regulation and guidelines

Government advertising must be apolitical, which means it can’t be designed to influence support for a political party, minister, member of parliament or candidate. 

In addition to being apolitical, government advertising must be:

  • accurate
  • presented in a fair and accessible manner 
  • in line with branding guidelines
  • sensitive to cultural needs and issues, and reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of NSW
  • respectful in the portrayal of gender and sexuality 
  • inclusive of people with a disability

These rules are set out in the advertising guidelines (PDF, 72.38 KB)  and legally required under the Government advertising act 2011 and Government advertising regulation 2018

The advertising guidelines (PDF, 72.38 KB)  also set out the range of objectives advertising can achieve, as well as the standards and principles you should observe when planning, developing and managing NSW Government advertising campaigns.

NSW is one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse states in the world. Government advertising must be sensitive to cultural needs and issues, and reflect the cultural and linguistic diversity of NSW.

In addition:

  • At least 7.5 per cent of an advertising campaign media budget is to be spent on direct communications to multicultural and Aboriginal audiences. Spend may be on media or non-media communication activities (e.g. events, participation at cultural festivals, direct mail, competitions and websites) as deemed most effective for the campaign. 
  • Agencies should also report on these activities as part of the Multicultural Policies and Services Program reporting requirements.

There are approximately 1.3 million people with disability in NSW. Awareness of the communication requirements for people with disability is one of the principles covered in the guidelines. 

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, agencies must ensure that people with disabilities have the same fundamental rights to access information and services as others in the community.

Agencies should consider:

  • images that are used in advertising are representative of the NSW population and include people with disabilities where appropriate
  • captioning television and other multimedia advertising, and AUSLAN interpretation for people with hearing impairment
  • accessibility requirements for websites
  • information is designed for people living with intellectual disabilities and available in multiple accessible formats.

The Disability Inclusion Act 2014 requires NSW Government departments and agencies to develop and put in place their own Disability Inclusion Action Plan. Refer to your Disability Inclusion Action Plan when planning a Government advertising campaign. 

Campaign approval process

All government advertising campaigns with budgets greater than $250,000 (excluding GST) must be peer reviewed.

This includes all advertising categories (recruitment, public notices and public awareness campaigns).  

Peer review is a two stage process

Government agencies submit an advertising budget proposal to the Department of Customer Service Campaign Effectiveness Team (DCS team) for each campaign planned for the upcoming financial year. 

We review the proposals and provide advice to ensure advertising: 

  • is developed in collaboration with relevant agency partners 
  • has evidence of its likely effectiveness
  • leverages government communication channels
  • makes use of data and customer and behavioural insights and
  • contributes to the ambitions and priorities of the All of Government Communication Framework

We make recommendations to the Delivery and Performance Committee of Cabinet (DaPCo). DaPCo centrally coordinate government advertising and give budget approval.  

Our advice to DaPCo may include that:

  • there is strong evidence of effectiveness and minimal check ins with the DCS team required 
  • evidence and key details are yet to be completed and check ins with the DCS team on a range of areas is advised
  • resubmission needed - more details and evidence required (we’ll work closely with agency)

We might also recommend that some of the budget is approved to conduct research or provide more evidence to support the strategy (these campaigns will go back to a future DaPCo meeting for approval of the remainder of the proposed budget).

Once you have budget approval, the DCS team will review your campaign. We'll contact you with what you'll need to do during this stage.

At a minimum, you’ll be required to:

  • supply a media plan and creative concepts 
  • complete specialist check-ins with the DCS team

What happens next?

After stage 1 and stage 2 are complete, you'll receive a peer review completion letter. Your agency head will want to see the completion letter before signing your compliance certificate. 

You will need to submit a post-campaign effectiveness report the DCS team within three months of campaign completion.  It identifies campaign results against objectives, key learnings and recommendations for future campaigns. 

The report should demonstrate application of the evaluation methods outlined in the evaluation framework discussed during the peer review process. 

Learn more about evaluation

Compliance certificates

The compliance certificate is a short statement signed by the head of your agency (unless exempt) that confirms the government advertising campaign:

  1. complies with the Act, Regulation and Guidelines
  2. contains accurate information
  3. is necessary to achieve a public purpose and is supported by analysis and research
  4. is an efficient and cost-effective means of achieving the public purpose.

It must be completed before your advertising starts.

You can use our compliance certificate template (DOC, 47 KB) or prepare your own.

Advertising compliance certificates must be publicly available on your agency's website.

You don’t need a compliance certificate for routine advertising under $250,000 (ex GST) as long as:

What is 'routine advertising'?

Routine advertising is defined in Section 7 of the Regulation as

  • information about routine matters relating to the provision of services, including notification of service changes
  • information about requirements imposed on persons
  • community announcements or notices about community events or activities; 
  • notices or announcements required to be made by or under any law; 
  • recruitment notices
  • government tender or procurement notices.

Cost benefit analysis 

For campaigns over $1 million, a cost benefit analysis must be carried out and updated as needed. It is your responsibility to prepare this. 

The cost benefit analysis Framework (PDF, 584.81 KB) and User Guide (PDF, 504.81 KB) are helpful resources to use. 

You can also contact Treasury for advice.

Which media agencies to use

The NSW Government works with the contracted media agencies listed below under the Media Agencies Services Agreement (MAS). For advertising campaigns, use the media agency aligned to your (NSW Government) agency. All routine advertising such as recruitment and public notices are booked through Blaze.

See 'Agency Contacts' for each media agency's contact details. If you don't know who to talk to, contact the campaign performance team

A good brief is essential

See 'Agency contacts' below for each media agency's briefing form.

Each media agency’s briefing form is in contacts.

Aim for a detailed and clear brief that includes:

  • background information
  • brand information
  • possible competitive challenges
  • past learnings
  • campaign objectives
  • target audience
  • broader communications strategy
  • campaign logistics and budget
  • in-market dates and timelines.

Depending on the scope and size of the brief, the MAS agency may recommend different levels of their planning service with varying timelines. 

The MAS agencies must provide you a costed scope of work (SOW) for their media strategy and planning services, to be agreed prior to commencement of work. 

A fully costed media plan is a deliverable of this process – typically provided after media recommendations have been prepared and discussed with you.

Once you have obtained advertising approval, finalised your media plan and completed peer review where required, you can proceed with media bookings.

Agency contacts

​​​www.blazeonline1.com.au to place a request through their online booking form
www.blazeonline2.com.au to directly plan, place, track and manage your advertising campaigns via an online portal. If you have not used this portal before you should first contact the Account Manager.

Buying communications services

The Advertising and Digital Communications Prequalification Scheme (the Scheme), lists approved communications service providers. 

Please note: This scheme is now accepting new applications. The Scheme has increased the number of capabilities and updated the types of services available for prequalification. This will make it easier for NSW Government departments and agencies to find approved suppliers that match their needs. Existing service providers who wish to remain prequalified must also reapply. Applications can be made on tenders.nsw.gov.au.

Quotes


Additional to any guidelines specific to your department, the following procurement rules apply when using a service provider on the Scheme:

 

  • If the cost is between $50,000 and $150,000 you need one quote.

  • If the cost is more than $150,000 you will need three quotes.

Formalise your agreement

We recommend using a standard form of agreement (DOC, 125 KB) to formalise your agreement with a scheme service provider.

Types of capabilities

 

  • market research
  • strategy
  • marketing and campaign services
  • public relations
  • social media
  • Indigenous communications and engagement
  • CALD communications and engagement
  • visual communications 
  • written communications
  • digital communications
  • production


Please refer to the Scheme Conditions (DOCX, 103.78 KB) for more information about the capabilities and services available for prequalification.

Advertising and Digital Communications Prequalification Services Scheme

The Advertising and Digital Communications Prequalification Services Scheme (the Scheme) lists approved communications service providers for use by government departments. 

This list is continuously updated as new applicants are approved.

Find suppliers on the Scheme

Recruitment, procurement and public notices

Speak with your people and culture division before advertising.

If you will be placing the advertisement, contact Blaze for advice about media options available, costs, geographical coverage of various newspaper titles, dates of publications, booking deadlines, circulation and readership if needed.

Public notices appear on a weekly basis (Wednesday) in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph.  

Contact Blaze for advice about media options available, costs, geographical coverage of various newspaper titles, dates of publications, booking deadlines, circulation and readership if needed.

Procurement notices including requests for tender, requests for quote, requests for information and expressions of interest are advertised on the NSW Government e-Tendering website.

Contact the NSW Procurement Service Centre on 1800 679 289 or email nswbuy@treasury.nsw.gov.au. Press advertising of tenders is discouraged.

Expenditure reporting

The DCS campaign performance team request information about advertising expenditure from government agencies as needed, including estimated forward expenditure and final campaign costs.

An updated report is published (every six months) on our website with details of advertising media expenditure by government agencies. 

We encourage you to publish information about your own advertising programs on your websites. Information may include advertising rationale, objectives, costs and outcomes. 

Helpful resources

Need advice?

The NSW Government Communications team can offer advice on government advertising requirements. 

Contact the all of govt advertising team

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