Bosnia’s ‘Buy Domestic’ Commercial Stirs Controversy

The Agriculture Minister of the Bosnian Federation entity says that any similarity between his party’s slogan and the one used in a recent agriculture commercial is coincidental.In a marketing campaign entitled “Buy Domestic,” the Agriculture Minister of the Bosniak-Croat Federation, Jerko Ivankovic Lijanovic, encourages the population to buy domestic products.

The video drew criticism due to the similarity between the slogan used in the campaign, “buy with your heart” and the Minster’s party’s slogan, “vote with your heart.”The campaign, which costs €343,531, was paid for by the Ministry’s budget. According to the Sarajevo-based Centre for Investigative Journalism, CIN, the public procurement procedures used to choose an advertising agency broke down, and the Minister used the opportunity to promote his party.

Ivankovic Lijanovic told CIN that the Ministry paid for the campaign with money allocated to support agricultural initiatives and that it was done legally.

“We thought that every KM invested [in the advertisement] would have a greater impact on the agricultural community than by giving the money directly to farmers,” the Minister said, adding that domestic producers have a problem with recognition of their products, and that this advertisement was a way to help.

He denied that the campaign was used to promote his party, the People’s Party Work for Progress, and that the idea of mentioning “with your heart” was not his, but the agency’s, and they also suggested he be the primary speaker in the advertisement.

“The idea was to put me and the Prime Minister in the video, but the PM could not participate at the time of filming,” Ivankovic Lijanovic said. “So I took the entire burden of the campaign myself.”

The Tim System agency made the advertisement and the director, Sanela Prasovic-Gadzo, told CIN that the agency found out afterwards that Ivankovic-Lijanovic’s party slogan is “with your heart.”

A few years ago, Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that fights corruption, condemned the use of public money for the promotion of political parties. At the time, the Energy Ministry used the state power company to promote party programs through an advertisement.

Another example of using an institution to promote a political party was when the government of the Republika Srpska entity made a video called “Proud of Srpska,” to promote the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, led by the Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik.

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