Getting Out the vote

Ad efforts to get out the vote in Chicago’s Cook County used to take a fairly dry approach, with celebrity talking heads “basically wagging their fingers at people and telling them it’s their responsibility to vote,” acknowledged Scott Burnham, a representative of the Cook County Clerk’s office.

This fall the clerk asked FCB for some ideas, and the result is a more humorous and edgy approach aimed at notoriously non-voting 18- to 24-year-olds, Burnham said. A TV spot has a clerkish fellow reading off a list of excuses “as a public service for those not voting.” The list, superimposed over the man reading it, includes, “Gosh, was that today?” and “What is this voting thing?”

“We’ve noticed that with PSAs, to get better play you have to do something innovative,” Burnham said. “Otherwise, they’ll be shown at 3:30 in the morning.”

Print ads have headlines over the eyes and mouths of people in their 20s. “Only votes for music videos,” reads one, “Already voted for cola ‘a’ over cola ‘b’,” another. The campaign is tagged, “You can have an excuse, or you can have a voice.”