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California Breaks Ads For Mentor Program

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In a bid to recruit 250,000 Californians to volunteer as mentors for high-risk teenagers, Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn will unveil a new $3 million ad campaign next week.
The Sacramento, Calif.-based agency won the account for the State of California's Partnership for Responsible Parenting in a review earlier this year. This assignment is part of a $30 million, three-year effort.
The new statewide mentor campaign consists of two TV spots and two radio commercials, as well as newspaper ads aimed at specific ethnic groups. The work will run for seven weeks.
The program's overall objective is to reduce the number of teen pregnancies, and mentoring is being touted as a proven way to get young people to make responsible choices in their lives, including their sexual activity, according to state officials.
The ads take a can-do, upbeat, neighborly tone to reach adults who could share their experiences with those less fortunate, said agency executives.
Research showed the ads needed to be "nonthreatening, and the message surrounded in a very emotional and tug-at-your-heartstrings manner," said Kelly Coplin, agency account manager.
One TV spot shows an attractive, middle-class woman recalling a time when, young and alone, she met an adult at work who "found" her and befriended her. "Now it's my turn," she says. The scene then shows the woman and a teenage girl mugging at the camera in a instant-photo booth. The spot ends with a direct response phone number.
The other TV ad is built around artfully lit shots of youngsters and teens of various races. A voiceover discusses the potential inside each child and suggests that mentors can help release that potential. The spot explains how viewers can become mentors.
Ethnic agencies working on the campaign are HeadQuarters Advertising in San Francisco and LaGrant Communications in Los Angeles. Also contributing to the umbrella Partnership for Responsible Parenting is Imada Wong Communications in Los Angeles.