Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Questions (134)

Peadar Tóibín


134. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount spent on digital marketing in each of the past eight years; the items on which funds were spent; the criteria by which target audiences were selected; the amount of the digital spend targeted here; the amount targeted abroad; the amount that related to private companies; the amount that related to policy initiatives; and the purpose of the digital advertisements. [29393/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

My Department engages in public information advertising and awareness campaigns where there is important information that needs to be brought to the attention of citizens.  Social media and online promoted content play a significant role in this connection.  Examples of where my Department has advertised using social media have included public information campaigns in relation to the Online Passport Renewals Service and on the theme of ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’.

In the time available, it has only proved possible to retrieve data as sought by the Deputy for the period 2016 to date. Details of relevant social media and online public information advertising campaigns as carried out within this timeframe are set out below. Unless otherwise indicated, and on the basis of the criteria outlined above, the target audiences in each case were Irish citizens located in Ireland.

- Online Passport Renewals Service

In 2017 and 2018, my Department concentrated on promoting the Online Passport Renewal Service as a fast and secure way for adults to renew their passports. Specific activities included advertisements on social media platforms, print ads, press releases and attendance at relevant promotional events, as well as participation by the Director of the Passport Service in over 25 interviews on regional radio stations.

In Q4 2018 the service was expanded to include online renewal of children’s passports, a passport card for children and a wider cohort of adults eligible to renew online. This expanded service means that all Irish citizens can now renew their passports online 24/7 from anywhere in the world. My Department ran a three-week public information campaign including advertisements on social media platforms, print ads and radio ads. The success of this campaign has led to a significant increase in online renewal applications in Q1 2019.

The direct costs of online and social media advertising to raise public awareness amongst Irish citizens in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- Ireland’s Campaign for Election to the UN Security Council

On July 2nd 2018, the Taoiseach and I publicly launched Ireland’s campaign to secure a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in June 2020 for the 2021-2022 term. Ireland’s campaign is premised on three themes: Empathy, Partnership and Independence. To coincide with this launch, my Department used social media platforms to promote public awareness of Ireland’s campaign online, and the direct costs incurred in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- Government Brexit Update and ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready’

The Government Brexit Update email service and the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready public information campaign have formed part of the Government’s overall strategy to keep citizens fully informed and up-to date on the implications and challenges of Brexit.

The Update is issuing on a regular basis via a commercial provider (MailChimp) and provides information on latest developments in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, on the latest available research publications and on engagement at Government level. It also highlights the range of business supports that are available through the various Government Departments and State agencies. This service has a global reach with 37.7% of the subscribers of the service coming from outside of Ireland.

My Department also coordinated a Government-wide ‘Getting Ireland Brexit Ready Campaign’ which I and Ministers Humphreys and Creed launched together on 20 September.  This campaign updated citizens, communities and businesses about Brexit preparedness and support measures that are available as well as on public workshop events that were held over successive weeks throughout October and the last two weeks in November. A programme of awareness raising via online and social media platforms also took place.  Costs incurred in this regard are set out in Table 1 below.

- St Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is a unique opportunity to engage with the global Irish community and to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests overseas, with levels of publicity and media attention unmatched by the National Day of any other country.

This year’s programme had the largest number of countries ever visited for St. Patrick’s Day. The Taoiseach and I, along with 13 Ministers, 19 Ministers of State, the Attorney General, Ceann Comhairle and Cathaoirleach visited 56 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region.  These programmes allowed us to promote trade, investment and tourism with Ireland, to increase visibility in new markets, and to promote our values and our influence in global institutions, notably in support of our campaign to become a member of the United Nations Security Council.  It also allowed us to deepen our connections with Irish people and friends of Ireland all over the world.

Team Ireland overseas delivered a total of 1,796 events in support of Ireland’s interest over the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day period in this context. To coincide with and complement these activities, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to online promotion of an accompanying St. Patrick’s Day video as outlined in Table 1 below. In addition to Ireland, the video in question was also promoted in certain areas of the USA and continental Europe (France, Germany, Italy and Spain) to audiences with strong Irish diaspora connections and/or related potential disposition to Ireland as a tourism destination.

- Global Ireland: Ireland’s Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025

‘Global Ireland’ is an all-of-Government programme which aims to double Ireland’s impact in the world by 2025. The programme was launched by the Taoiseach and myself and Ministers Humphreys, Madigan and McEntee in June 2018 and sets out Ireland’s ambitions in relation to how we trade, the bilateral and multilateral partnerships that we seek to build and our wider contribution to the world.

Global Ireland: Ireland's Strategy for the US and Canada 2019–2025 is Ireland's first whole-of-Government strategy for the US and Canada. Its aim is for Ireland to build strong, strategic political partnerships with the US and Canada and assume a lead role in building stronger transatlantic relations.

To coincide with the programme of St. Patrick’s Day-related activities held there earlier this year, a small amount of expenditure was incurred by my Department in relation to the online promotion of a video that outlined the Strategy’s key objectives insofar as the US is concerned.  In addition to Ireland, the video in question was also promoted in the various areas of the US where Irish diplomatic missions are located – viz., Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. – so as to support and facilitate Ireland’s ongoing engagement with key audiences in each case.

- Travelwise

TravelWise is an award-winning smartphone app designed to help Irish citizens to stay safe and informed while travelling, living or working overseas.

A core part of our mission is to help ensure the safety and welfare of Irish people travelling abroad by providing accessible and relevant information. There are increasing numbers of Irish residents travelling abroad – more than 7 million trips abroad – and increasing numbers travelling to higher-risk locations.

TravelWise has been developed by the Department to provide travel advice and consular information to these citizens to keep them informed and aware. To coincide with its launch in 2016 my Department spent a small amount to promote its uptake.

- Other Projects

My Department has also engaged in social media promotion of certain other initiatives and projects that relate to Ireland’s foreign policy activities.

- Commissioning, in conjunction with the Royal Irish Academy, the first public performance at the UN General Assembly of a new work of poetry by Eavan Boland (“Our Future Will Become The Past of Other Women”) to mark the centenary of women’s suffrage in December 2018;

- Ireland’s participation (by video) in the 2 December 2018 'Global Citizen Mandela 100' concert; and

- A public consultation to help shape Ireland’s new diaspora policy is currently taking place around the country, and to encourage public awareness of these events taking place my department has promoted these events on Facebook.

- The launch of Ireland’s new policy for international development, ‘A Better World’, on 28 February.


Campaign Details and dates



Online Passport Renewals 

PHD (Social media and online) 


Getty Ireland Brexit Ready 

PHD (Twitter, internet and search optimisation) 


St Patrick's Day 

PHD (Social media) 


Simon Cumbers Media Fund & ‘A Better World’

Facebook & Twitter


A New Diapora Policy for Ireland 












Online Passport Renewals

Twitter & Facebook 


Getting Ireland Brexit Ready  

PHD (Social media, internet and search optimisation) 


UN Security Council Campaign 

PHD (Social media)


Global Ireland

PHD (social media) 


D/FAT Missions









D/FAT Missions



Online Passport Renewals

Facebook & Twitter








Consular Division - Travelwise 



DFAT Missions