back to top
Politics

The Government Spent £70,000 On Sponsored Snapchat Filters

The Department for Transport wants you to see what life is like behind bars. On Snapchat.

Originally posted on
Updated on

The government has spent £70,000 this year buying sponsored Snapchat filters, according to a freedom of information request by BuzzFeed News.

The money was spent on a public information campaign warning people against taking drugs and then driving. According to the Snapchat filter, that's because a roadside drug swab test introduced last year makes it easier for police to make arrests on the spot.

The freedom of information response revealed 5% of the 2016 advertising budget for the government’s Think! drug-driving campaign was spent on the Snapchat filter, which was available on the service in March.

The government-sponsored filter sat alongside more upbeat ones that allow users to turn their faces into a cat, wear a flower crown, or release an exploding rainbow fountain from their mouth.

The Snapchat advertising deal is a sign the government is trying new approaches to sharing official communications with the public.

It also reflects of the growing importance of Snapchat as it moves away from its old reputation as an app for sharing explicit images into a popular broadcast medium.

Politicians are slowly catching up with the potential of the service in an attempt to reach new audiences.

"The advertising channel mix for the Think! drug drive campaign was chosen to maximise reach among the target audience," said the Department for Transport.

"For example, Snapchat has 8 million UK users and indexes well with our young male audience (61% are male and 30% are aged between 18 and 34)."

Following the publication of this a spokesperson got in touch to add further details on the popularity of the Snapchat advertising campaign: "The filter was live for a day and it got over 700,000 uses and 13.2 million views."

It is unknown whether Jeremy Corbyn, who earlier this month became the first UK political party leader to join Snapchat, has had a chance to use such a filter.

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.