May 14, 2002

The Advertising Council and The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) joined to announce the launch of a new public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to raise awareness of the importance of voting and encourage young people to register and vote in the upcoming elections. The ads offer comical portrayals of everyday situations where choices are taken away, thereby equating not voting with leaving one's choices in the hands of another.

The FVAP and the Ad Council have partnered to launch the campaign in response to the dramatic decrease in voter turnout during the last 25 years. The new PSA campaign targets 18 to 24 year old citizens. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this audience is the largest group of non-voters in the United States.

Created by Atlanta-based volunteer ad agency WestWayne, the campaign centers on "Decision Guy," a fictional character who interferes with the real-life decisions young people encounter daily. One :30 television PSA shows a girl in a hair salon telling the stylist how to cut her hair, when "Decision Guy" rudely interrupts and demands a different cut. Another PSA takes place at the drive-through window of a fast food restaurant where "Decision Guy" substitutes his choices for the food order of another person. All of the PSAs conclude with the tagline, "Stinks when other people make decisions for you. That's what happens when you don't vote."

The Ad Council is distributing the television, radio, print and Internet PSAs nationally to more than 28,000 media outlets throughout the month of June.

"The small number of young people that exercise their right to vote in America today is startling. Sadly, our research has revealed that the nation's youth are uninformed when it comes to the government and politics. As the future of this country, it is essential that America's young people understand the importance of each vote and how the election of our candidates can affect their lives personally," according to Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council. "I am confident that this campaign will resonate with young people and encourage them to exercise their right to vote."

The PSAs direct viewers and listeners to visit the FVAP's website at where they can find national and local information about voting and registering in upcoming elections. A second phase of the campaign is scheduled to launch in August, as a reminder to vote in the elections in November.

"The Ad Council and WestWayne have created an excellent, attention getting multi-media campaign to get out the vote. This PSA campaign is designed to encourage all citizens, in particular the 18-24 year olds, to get connected with the democratic process by registering and voting," according to Polli Brunelli, Director, Federal Voting Assistance Program, Department of Defense. "We know from voter turnout statistics that this demographic group historically has the lowest voting rate. Our focus groups show that non-voting young adults in this age group do not feel engaged in the political process. In contrast, those 18-24 year olds who have voted were able to link voting to issues they care about, and feel enfranchised. This PSA underscores the importance of voting: By casting your vote, you support a candidate who represents your interests. This process helps determine your future and your family's future."

Developing the campaign pro bono, ad agency WestWayne faced the challenge of appealing to America's youth, and helping them to realize the importance of voting as it affects their lives.

"I remember how completely not interested I was in voting in my early 20's," said WestWayne Chief Creative Officer Luke Sullivan. "These ads get inside the minds of our target with a humorous reminder of how important the power to make decisions for yourself can be. We aren't being preachy or trying to guilt anyone into voting -- we just point out a universal truth -- everyone likes to think for themselves."

The Federal Voting Assistance Program

The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), in the Department of Defense, administers the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). This Act guarantees the right to vote of Uniformed Services personnel and their dependents, the merchant marine, and all U.S. citizens when residing outside the United States. The FVAP also carries out the 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 FVAP has historically provided a wide range of services and information to promote and facilitate voter participation. The Get Out The Vote campaign has been an endorsed campaign of The Advertising Council since 1980. This national multimedia public service announcement campaign is conducted during Federal election years. It is carried out in cooperation with the Military Services and State and local election officials and organizations such as the National Association of Secretaries of State and the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials and Treasurers.

The Advertising Council

The Advertising Council is a private, nonprofit organization, which has been the leading producer of public service communications programs in the United States since its founding as The War Advertising Council in 1942. For sixty years, The Council has supported campaigns that benefit all Americans. The Ad Council marshals volunteer talents from the advertising and communications industries to create awareness, foster understanding and motivate action. Ad Council campaigns, such as "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk," "Take A Bite Out of Crime," and "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste," have helped save lives and educate the public about issues and concerns of the day, making America a healthier country in which to live. Last year, Ad Council campaigns received more than $1.5 billion in donated media time and space. To learn more about the Ad Council and its campaigns, visit its Web site,

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