The B.C. government had employees who were "embedded" within the CTV and NBC television networks during the Olympics, according to Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Kevin Krueger.
"We did creative work for years leading up to the Olympics," Krueger said in the legislature on March 30. "We provided images, and we still are, to NBC and CTV. We provided video. We provided still photography. We provided written stories. We had employees who were embedded in those news organizations. They did a wonderful job."
Krueger offered up this relevation during debate over his ministry's spending estimates in the coming year.
(The Straight has previously reported that the government was considering the Olympic broadcasters' needs several years ago when it created the "Best Place on Earth" advertising campaign.)
Krueger's comment about government employees being embedded within news organizations came while NDP tourism critic Spencer Herbert was peppering him with questions about his ministry's "You gotta be here" advertising campaign.
"The fact is, as I've already told the member, that we had a $38.6 million budget for the 'You gotta be here' campaign," Krueger said. "We didn't spend it on advertising British Columbia to British Columbians."
Herbert noted that the ads appeared on billboards in the Downtown Eastside and other areas, which suggested that this was advertising directed at British Columbians.
"Can the minister tell me how, after October last year, all of a sudden we decided to spend massive amounts on billboards, massive amounts on bus shelters, massive amounts on television advertising within British Columbia, when the minister committed to me in this very place that we wouldn't be spending any?" Herbert said. "I asked specifically about billboards. The minister said: 'No, we weren't spending any money on billboards.' "
The following day, Krueger admitted that some of the "You gotta be here" advertising was directed at British Columbians.
"In recognition of the province's contributions to the Games, in late November VANOC offered the government advertising space free of charge—we had believed that it was yesterday—in various locations of the Lower Mainland, which included billboards, transit shelters, exterior bus and platform posters, Waterfront station, videos on SkyTrain and Canada Line platforms at Canada Place and B.C. Place, and venue posters at B.C. Place, GM Place, and Pacific Coliseum," Krueger said. "The creative production and printing for these were paid out of the 'You gotta be here' campaign budget. VANOC did the installations with their resources."
He said that in early 2010, radio ads with the "You gotta be here" tag line ran during the Olympics and Paralympics to persuade people to visit Robson Square and the B.C. Pavilion. "Those ads ran February 12 and 13 and then, briefly, during the Paralympics," Krueger added. "I was unaware of that until after our discussions yesterday."
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.