DiCaprio Headlines Celebrity Youth Voting Push

LOS ANGELES The first of 12 spots in a “Rock the Vote” campaign of celebrity-driven commercials breaks today on Entertainment Tonight.

Leslie Libman directed the spots, which feature actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Benicio Del Toro, Rachel Leigh Cooke) and musicians (Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin, Will I Am from Black Eyed Peas, Adam Levine of Maroon 5).

The execution breaking tonight features some of the performers who came aboard the project at the behest of DiCaprio, Libman said. The spots will run on various Viacom properties, including MTV and Comedy Central, as well as in some 6,000 theatres in 39 states, Libman said. A spokesman for Rock the Vote, New York, which is designated by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, said it would break with free-media play but that the org has hired a media agency for a later buy. The budget is undisclosed.

Creative shows the performers shot against a white cyclorama, exhorting young people to vote. Ads deal with a range of hot-button issues and employ an editing style that suggests they are completing one another’s sentences. The tagline is “The most important thing I can do, you can do.”

“You see the passion of the actors, bringing up the draft, medical insurance, the war in Iraq, what could be perceived as liberal causes,” said Libman, adding that the Rock the Vote campaign maintains that it is a non-partisan voter turnout effort. “From my point of view, they are not veiled liberal spots. They are pulling out issues not addressed in the debates and in the media.”

Producer Francie Moore and Libman, a episodic television director whose past includes music videos for acts such as The Bangles, Bee Gees, and Boy George as well as commercials for American Express and Northwest Airlines, pitched the project to Rock the Vote president Jehmu Greene.

The production was accomplished through Harvest Films, Los Angeles. The team called in favors to get the 35mm productions, finished in high-definition for the theatrical release, done pro bono by companies such as Panavision, Kodak, Company 3, Riot and Graying and Balding editorial and Quixote Studios.