National quality mark promotion to go partly in-house under Ministry plan


The Ministry of Agriculture has earmarked more funding for the advertising of Czech-produced foods this year. However, it plans major changes in how its Klasa national quality mark is promoted, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Thursday.

Since 2004 the Klasa mark has appeared on the labels of foodstuffs and drinks produced in the Czech Republic (though it can also be earned by products featuring imported ingredients). Over 1,300 products from almost 230 companies have the right to use the red, white and blue symbol.

The Ministry of Agriculture has to date spent close to CZK 2 billion on marketing the mark, despite the fact there is no concrete evidence of a return on the enormous investment, Mladá fronta Dnes said. Nevertheless, the Ministry has earmarked CZK 150 million for that purpose this year.

However, Minister Marian Jurečka has rethought the way the Klasa mark is operated and this year’s tender process will be considerably different than competitions run in the past.

This time out only the concept of the advertising campaign will be decided via a tender process. The hands-on running of the campaign, such as the purchase of ad space, will be carried out by the ministry itself using a public contracts website.

Minister Jurečka says breaking the Klasa “mega-contract” up will lead to cost savings and boost transparency. He said similar changes were being considered for a second state-awarded mark named Regionální potravina (Regional Foodstuff).

A Ministry of Agriculture official told Mladá fronta Dnes that a decision had not yet been made on how the CZK 150 million earmarked for 2015 would be divided between the creative part of the campaign and the actual adverts.

It is also unclear what will be done with the CZK 126 left over from last year, when a Klasa promotion tender process was dropped after the anti-trust office questioned whether the winner, McCann Erickson, had met all the competition’s criteria.

The Supreme Audit Authority, meanwhile, has questioned the whole enterprise, saying Mr. Jurečka’s predecessors had poured hundreds of millions of crowns into promoting the national mark without setting any targets for what the spending should achieve.

However, research has indicated that 80 percent of Czech consumers are aware of Klasa, Mladá fronta Dnes said, adding that many producers believe that it does boost sales.

Minister Jurečka – who is regarded as not being shy of publicity – recently came in for criticism after himself appearing in a similar campaign named České Vánoce (Czech Christmas) that pushed local products in the run-up to the festive season.

He told Mladá fronta Dnes that its success would need to be assessed before further specialised campaigns of that type could be launched in the future.