At a time when legislation is being introduced, and in some cases gaining traction, to rein in the budget of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Bureau has nearly doubled the amount spent on online advertising just since last year.
The relatively new (only five years old) CFPB has spent about $15.3 million on its online advertising campaign so far this fiscal year, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, is a larger portion of its budget on advertising than almost all other federal agencies.
USASpending.gov reported that so far in FY 2016, the CFPB has spent almost double the amount on advertising it spent in all of 2015. The amount spent this fiscal year so far represents about 2.5 percent of its budget, the Journal reported. USASpending.gov contains all the CFPB’s contract information, consistent with other federal agencies, according to the Bureau.
“The CFPB is a new agency with a mission and mandate that requires direct engagement with American consumers,” CFPB spokesman Sam Gilford said. “We are using all available channels to engage the people we serve, and we have launched financial education efforts to directly reach consumers through libraries, nonprofits, local government agencies, and more. We began the digital marketing effort in 2013 with the goal of getting our tools and resources into the hands of consumers who need them. Since then, millions of consumers have come to the CFPB and used our resources to submit a complaint about a financial product or service, better understand the home-buying process, or navigate paying for college.”
As to the question of whether the increased ad spending is part of a damage control effort by the Bureau to stem the tide of criticisms against it lately, Gilford said that, “Over the past several years, the Bureau has increased the tools and resources we have available and our efforts to increase awareness among consumers of these valuable resources has appropriately shifted. Funding for the CFPB’s digital marketing effort has been at a consistent level from April 2015 through the end of FY 2016.”
“We are using all available channels to engage the people we serve. . .”
Sam Gilford, CFPB Spokesman
The planning for the advertising effort began back in 2012, when the Bureau was only one year old, according to the CFPB. In August 2013, the advertising contract was awarded to GMMB, which according to the Journal, is the same advertising firm used by Barack Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
“In accordance with federal law, the requirement was competitively solicited amongst qualified firms previously placed on the GSA Schedule,” Gilford said. “The Bureau received four quotes and eventually signed a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) with GMMB after an open and fair selection process.”
The goal of the CFPB with the advertising campaign is to “reach consumers when they are most likely to need our help. Consumers who are in financial trouble or who are seeking financial information often turn to popular search engine websites or browse popular financial websites. We want those consumers to easily find our free and unbiased information before they make a financial decision that could have a huge impact on their lives.”