Money Lender Gets Out the Vote

Erwin-Penland’s “Register in Advance” effort pairs client Advance America Cash Advance Centers with national and regional associations in an effort to enroll 50,000 new voters.

Starting this month and running through mid-September, customers at 1,600 of the cash-advance service’s locations can register to vote.

Existing television commercials created by the Greenville, S.C., shop have been tagged with the program’s “Register in Advance” message.

Advance America’s chief executive officer, Billy Webster, conducted a similar effort on behalf of Bojangles’ Restaurants in 1988 and 1990. Webster said his company will spend about $2 million to promote the program via direct mail, TV and in-store materials.

“Our goal is to provide the greatest access possible to the most valuable right on which our democracy rests,” said Webster.

Nationally, an estimated 36 percent of the eligible population is not registered to vote, according to research provided by agency officials.

The partnership makes sense, the agency said, because cash-advance services often target low-income, poorly educated people who do not vote.

A retailer like Advance America, which targets the same demographic, wants to “rise above the unseemly element that exists in this category in the minds of consumers,” according to agency representative Barry Finkelstein.

“The message of empowerment resonates with these folks,” he said.

The public affairs specialists of P&P Designs, Tallahassee, Fla., are handling publicity for the program.