Monday, February 27, 2012

This campaign is proof libraries make you smarter

At least, having a library client does.

Here's the story from Leo Burnett's YouTube channel:
The city of Troy, Michigan was facing a budget shortfall, and was considering closing the Troy Public Library for lack of funds. Even though the necessary revenues could be raised through a miniscule tax increase, powerful anti-tax groups in the area were organized against it. A vote was scheduled amongst the city's residents, to shut the library or accept the tax increase, and Leo Burnett Detroit decided to support the library by creating a reverse psychology campaign. Yard signs began appearing that read: "Vote to Close Troy Library on August 2nd - Book Burning Party on August 5th." No one wants to be a part of a town that burns books, and the outraged citizens of Troy pushed back against the "idiotic book burners" and ultimately supported the tax increase, thus ensuring the library's survival.

It's absolutely brilliant. Fighting well-funded ignorance with wit and a shoestring budget, this campaign did what all advertising wishes it could do: change people's minds by inspiring them to look at an issue from a different angle.

I have always been a firm believer that cause marketing should neither preach to the choir nor try to convert the hardcore opposition. Instead, it should look to the massive audience of nice, average and well-meaning people near the centre. People who would support the cause if they really thought about what it meant.

By parodying the anti-intellectualism of the American populist right, this campaign rewrote the "anti-tax" narrative into one about the true value of libraries, books and learning using the cheapest of tools. And it worked. 

Via It's Ten Blocks to 33rd Street
Thanks to Laura from St. Lawrence College for the tip!

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