“Part Of Our Deal Is That We Don’t Have Any Moniker Such As ‘Advertorial'”


From top: Noel Rock TD; Ellen Coyne of The Times Ireland edition; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil on Tuesday and a segment of an email from Mediaforce Ireland to certain newspapers

Readers may know that The Times Ireland edition has been highlighting how the government’s  Strategic Communication Unit’s promotional campaign for Project Ireland 2040 – involved paying for editorial content in local, regional and national newspapers.

The SCU was set up by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, after he was elected leader of Fine Gael and became Taoiseach last year.

It employs 15 people and is led by John Concannon, former head of Creative Ireland. The Government has budgeted the SCU will cost €5million this year.

Times reporter Ellen Coyne is reporting that ad agency Mediaforce Ireland, on behalf of the unit, advised newspapers not to mark the content as advertorial.

And they made the same demands during a similar campaign last summer for Creative Ireland.

Ms Coyne has tweeted a segment of an email sent  to newspapers by Mediaforce Ireland, on behalf of the Strategic Communications Unit.

It states

“Part of our deal is that we won’t have any moniker such as ‘advertorial’ or ‘special feature’ or anything like that – it simply runs as normal editorial.”

Ms Coyne has further tweeted that the bold and red highlighted sections in the twee (see above) were exactly how they were presented in emails to newspapers.

During Leader’s Questions on Tuesday, Taoiseach leo Vardkar told the Dáil:

“We have already explained how this [the paid content] works. The communications unit entered into media partnerships with media organisations. What happens there is that those organisations have editorial control over content.


Readers may recall last Monday’s Today With Sean O’Rourke, when  Fine Gael TD Noel Rock had the following exchange.

Noel Rock: “They’re [the paid content] clearly identified, from the reader’s perspective. I mean, I’ve yet to see a single example of one that hasn’t been clearly identified. All I’ve seen so far are the ones in the [Irish] Independent, in The Herald, on the Journal, which said at the top and the tail ‘sponsored content’.”

Sean O’Rourke: “Maybe if we had a copy of one of those 15 regional print and online news titles, you’d get a different impression.”

Rock: Perhaps but they have yet to be produced. All I’ve seen is a trumped-up charge and a press release.”

O’Rourke: “Oh, hold on now. Trumped-up charge. That’s a pretty loaded statement. I mean you’re suggesting that there’s fake news on the front of the Times Ireland edition today?”

Rock: “What I’m saying is there’s a complaint been made to the ASA about legal, decent, honest and truthful standards in advertising. And I’ve yet to see any proof whatsoever in that regard…”



Ministers demand to meet Varadkar over Ireland 2040 (Ellen Coyne, The Times Ireland edition)

Lessons to learn (Editorial, The Times Ireland edition)

Previously: ‘You Don’t Want People To Hear About The Government’s Vision’


Some articles which ran in regional newspapers last August about Creative Ireland…

Donegal News

Meath Chronicle

Leinster Leader

Kilkenny People

Donegal Democrat


Leitrim Observer

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24 thoughts on ““Part Of Our Deal Is That We Don’t Have Any Moniker Such As ‘Advertorial'”

  1. david

    Mean while rough sleepers have disappeared from the homeless numbers
    They are now classified as another category
    How many houses could be built for the cost of this goeballs propaganda unit

  2. steve white

    any examples of those, this refers just to Iconic newspapers?, I have the Irish Times “special report” supplement here.

    1. steve white

      those examples are interesting, its not unknonw for newspaper to allow minister to write opinions pieces but to take money for them and not make the clear is another thing.

  3. Pat Harding

    If Journalists in Ireland had any balls, they would stop calling it the ‘Strategic Communication Unit’ and just refer to them as the ‘Government Propaganda Unit’ which it is what they are.

    Neither ‘real journalists’ nor members of the public need to be deferential or indeed respectful to this crowd, just call a spade….a spade

    1. anyone

      at least this one is able to spell the man’s name correctly

      rest of the comment is pretty dreadful though, comparing Varadkar to the man behind one of the greatest organised mass-murder campaigns in history.


      1. david

        Actually he was not the only one
        All done with full permission of the German nation
        The OSS revealed at the end of the war 6 million card carrying Nazi Germans were free and living openly in germany

        1. anyone

          yea jusborisjibberjabber – what IS this nonsense with Pat Kenny’s wife?

          are you alright in the head?

  4. The Ghost of Starina

    ok so first of all that fuppin apostrophe in “logo’s” is exactly why we don’t let PR nitwits write the news. That misplaced apostrophe says EVERYTHING about the non-spellcheck-using, “it’s just a little change”-saying, all-surface-no-feeling morons who think it’s ok to try to peddle propaganda as fact.


  5. Matt Lucozade: The Only Reader of the Village

    I can think of a few good monikers for this shower.

  6. Trane Shaner

    Attached is another email from the media “empire” to all staff in light of the status red weather alert.
    Staff who left work in time for the curfew were collected by managers and brought back.
    London based owner told staff he was monitoring situation and nobody was to leave before his say so.
    Staff threatened with dismissal if they left early.
    He said he took no orders from our government.


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