LANSING – Besides dodging potholes and orange barrels, Michigan drivers this summer may also find themselves encountering several raccoons staring down at them from billboards beside the road.

But these raccoons aren’t hawking any particular wares for purchase. They want you to recycle properly. They serve as mascots of a $2 million state ad campaign intended to bolster recycling rates.

Government spending on advertising isn’t anything new or unusual – think the ongoing Pure Michigan tourism campaign, or the occasional health-related public service announcement.

But this year has seen the launch of some visible ad campaigns. Beyond the raccoons, there’s also the $3 million state-sponsored campaign to boost skilled trades that has also appeared on billboards.

There were enough billboards spotted to prompt a question: How much do the state agencies spend on advertising in a year?

After a survey of nearly every principal state department and other agencies, MIRS was able to identify $87.5 million spent toward advertising in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 after obtaining data from 24 state agencies.