Raise a reader, rouse an adman

Extra! Extra!

“Man buys copy of the Vancouver Sun from British Columbia’s Education Minister with a fresh $100 bill donation to the newspaper’s vital Raise-a-Reader literacy charity!”

Read all about it!


There’s more to this picture (which was posted caption-less on the government’s main propaganda website) than meets the eye. 

Minister Fassbender sells $100 newspaper!
Admen reunite: Palmer (left) and Fassbender (newsroom.gov.bc.ca)

If you follow B.C. politics, you probably know the man on the right is Peter Fassbender. He’s the rookie Surrey-Fleetwood BC Liberal MLA who was re-elected Mayor of the City of Langley in 2011 (a post held since July by Ted Schaffer who was chosen by the rest of council to serve the rest of Fassbender’s term).

Fassbender is a close friend of Deputy Premier Rich Coleman, who installed Fassbender as chairman of B.C. Pavilion Corporation, a post he held through the election.

Fassbender hit the streets on Sept. 25 to sell papers with news of a $500,000 donation from taxpayers to Raise-a-Reader, via Decoda Literacy Solutions, a spinoff of the secretive 2010 Legacies Now.


The man on the left is Frank Palmer, British Columbia’s most-powerful and most-successful ad-man. He’s the Palmer in Palmer Jarvis Advertising, which is now DDB Canada where he is chairman and CEO. 

Before he was a local politician in Langley, Fassbender was a business partner with Palmer at P.J. They go way back. In the 1990s, Fassbender was Palmer’s right-hand man.  

Palmer, through an Alberta numbered company, 971261 Alberta Ltd., donated $2,500 to Fassbender’s election campaign, which cost almost $200,000 (nearly double Premier Christy Clark’s failed Vancouver-Point Grey campaign). Even while he was running for office, Fassbender remained the chairman of B.C. Pavilion Corporation, the taxpayer-owned company that runs B.C. Place Stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre. Palmer is also a board member

Donating a C-note to a newspaper’s charity is tame for Palmer. Last year, he dressed up as rapper Big Frankie P and recorded a track to benefit the National Advertising Benevelont Society, the ad industry’s self-help charity. You could say he went from rap to fish-wrap.

Award-winning DDB was among six ad agencies on a pre-approved list of companies that the government called-upon from time-to-time over the last three years. During the most recent fiscal year, DDB billed the government $5.4 million and BC Hydro $11.7 million. DDB remains one of the government’s go-to ad shops; it was included on an expanded, post-election list of 23 companies offering traditional, digital, video and polling services. Palmer’s thoughts about procurement appear in Strategy, one of the Canadian industry’s trade mags. 

Here’s my Tyee reality check “Mad Men are always election winners” about the ad industry’s relationship with the government and the ruling party. The Vancouver ad industry is reliant on government contracts, because it lacks the quantity of private sector corporate head offices that Toronto and Calgary boast. The government spent $36.4 million during the year leading up to the election. The re-elected Liberals would say it was money well-spent. Taxpayers? Not so much

Now you know a little more about a photograph on the government website. 
2010goldrush.blogspot.com
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.

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