The Transportation Agency has spent more than $ 180,000 advertising the Clean Car Discount during July, the first month of the policy.
Advertising paid for print and radio ads, as well as posters, brochures, and Google ads online.
The Taxpayers Union said it was a waste of money because the policy received so much media attention that publicity was not necessary.
Part of the full-page ad the agency paid for read, “Over $ 80,000 off a new electric vehicle? That’s an EV decision.”
Louis Houlbrooke, a spokesman for the Taxpayers Union, said it was a huge waste of money.
“The problem here is the assumption that government departments have that they have to launch a huge taxpayer-funded information campaign for each policy,” he said.
“This one in particular got huge media coverage, our politicians debated it, not that New Zealanders weren’t aware of this policy.”
A breakdown of the costs shows that nearly $ 30,000 was invested in developing the campaign with the advertising company Clemenger BBDO, $ 34,000 in print advertising, $ 50,000 in radio advertisements over a three-week period, $ 5,000 in posters and flyers, $ 27,000 in Google Ads, and nearly $ 35,000 in content partnerships, or sponsored content, that ran on Stuff and NZME headlines.
Houlbrooke was particularly unhappy with the sponsored content.
“At the top right it says content sponsored by Waka Kotahi. Now for someone who is looking at an article like that at a glance, they probably haven’t even read it, so it’s not transparent enough in our opinion.
“At least one would hope that the Waka Kotahi logo was somewhere, but no, these look like normal items when they are actually taxpayer-funded promotions.”
In all, the campaign included 21 full media or advertisements in daily or weekend newspapers, and radio advertisements on 24 stations across the country.
The General Manager of Safety, Health and Environment of the Transportation Agency, Greg Lazarro, said RNZ in a statement that it was money well spent.
“The cost of the campaign represents a very small fraction of the government’s significant investment that encourages the use of low-emission transportation, which is expected to reach up to $ 25 million per year by 2023-24.
“In the plan’s first month, 1,944 electric and light hybrid vehicles were registered in New Zealand, compared to 521 in June.”
Lazarro said the purpose of the campaign was to refer people to the Transportation Agency’s Clean Car Discount website, where they can get more information on how to request refunds and if they are eligible.
But Houlbrooke was less convinced, saying that some of the ads looked more like for car companies.
“In a promotion like this, hopefully car companies are already running these kinds of ads.
“It is not clear why the government or why the taxpayer should step in to spend 200 of the big ones promoting a discount on a new car.”
For comparison, while the Transportation Agency spent just over $ 180,000 on advertising in July on the clean car discount, the Energy Conservation and Efficiency Authority has spent at least $ 400,000 on its Gen Less campaign, encouraging People use less energy at home, at work, or on the road.