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Bates Tells Youths to Get Voting
Edgy spots for Ad Council show risk of letting losers choose

If regular, upstanding citizens do not take the time to participate in elections, political races could be decided by slackers and slobs.

That's the message of an edgy new pro-bono campaign by Bates USA here for The Advertising Council's latest "Get out the vote" effort, now known as "Y2Vote". It targets 18-24 year olds who are not registered voters and registered voters who are not voting. The campaign includes print, radio and TV work, which will roll out state by state to coincide with the presidential primaries.

One 30-second spot shows two slouching losers named Fritz and John, grunge musicians who utter inanities about changing society.

"Our music is the most powerful form of political influence," says the spindly leader of the duo. A title identifies them as registered voters. "These guys vote," says a voiceover. "Shouldn't you?"

The second spot reveals Clarence, a man in a dumpy apartment who eats out of a pot and complains about being unable to find "a woman who is my intellectual peer." The caption: "Clarence too is a registered voter."

"We decided to take a really hard line," said Bates Worldwide creative director John Fawcett, "because the people that we are trying to reach, they feel that politics is not for them."

According to information published by The Ad Council, 32 percent of young adults voted in the 1996 presidential election, which had the lowest voter turnout since the government started collecting data in 1948. Voter turnout over the last 25 years has dropped 9 percent overall, with an 18 percent drop-off in voters ages 18-24.

Fawcett said the negative portrayal of people with different lifestyles may offend some viewers. "But I don't think it's possible to get the attention and get the response that we want by having something bland or vanilla," he said.

 

Richard Linnett, ADWEEK. February 7, 2000.

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