PSAs Tell Youths to 'Pay Attention and Vote'

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The Advertising Council Inc., a private nonprofit group, teamed with the Federal Voting Assistance Program to launch the Pay Attention and Vote campaign to increase turnout among young voters during the Nov. 7 midterm elections.

The cross-media campaign features mock political candidates and mimics real-life advertising. Titles include "Tacky Ceramic Rooster," "Bag of Leaves," "Old Relish Packet" and "Spoiled Yappy Dog."

"Young adults are one of the largest groups of non-voters in America," said Ellyn Fisher, director of corporate communications at the Ad Council, New York. "If the 2002 midterm [election] is any predictor of young adult voter turnout for this year's election, fewer than one in five 18- to 24-year-olds are likely to vote on Nov. 7."

The public service announcements were designed pro bono by WestWayne, an Atlanta-based independent ad agency, and will appear on television, radio, newspapers and outdoor and interactive formats. They will be distributed to 28,000 media outlets nationwide.

"The campaign uses humor to get across a very serious message," said Bobby Pearce, executive creative director for WestWayne. "The goal of the creative is to get people to be aware of the midterm elections and the importance of paying attention and focusing on who is being elected on the local and state level, since it affects everyday life."

The PSAs direct young adults to visit a new Web site at www.payattention.org, which offers voter registration forms, information on absentee voting and state-specific requirements and deadlines.

Also on payattention.org are blogs for each of the mock candidates, instant messenger, podcasts, downloadable ring tones and other interactive technology targeting young adults.

"We are trying to overcome the apathy of young adults to vote and educate them regarding their role and responsibility in the process," said Will Thomason, executive vice president and group account director at WestWayne.

The PSAs are part of an ongoing campaign with the Federal Voting Assistance Program and will run until the election. New creative campaigns will launch next year.

The FVAP administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. It also carries out Department of Defense responsibilities under the National Voter Registration Act, the purpose of which is to promote voter registration and participation in the electoral process.

The ads previously were tested with young adults and, according to the Ad Council, captured their attention.

"We want to break through the clutter and get the attention of young adults so that they vote in the November elections," Ms. Fischer said. "Our goal for this campaign is to raise awareness that it is easy to register to vote and that their vote does count."

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