Yes on Proposition 52
DETAILED CASE STUDY
In 2002, the Yes on Proposition 52 campaign contracted with NAM to boost ethnic communities’ awareness about the Election Day Voter Registration Initiative, a voter proposition to enable eligible voters to register to vote on election day.
The ultimate goal of the campaign was to encourage political groups to engage ethnic voters through the ethnic media and thereby increase civic participation in ethnic communities. Proposition 52 promised to address declining voter turnout, particularly in ethnic communities, and increase overall voter participation in California by making it easier to register. Though the initiative did not pass, voter support for Prop 52 was highest in counties targeted by the campaign.
To publicize the proposition, NAM and “Yes on Proposition” 52 held meetings to discuss registration deadlines’ negative impact on voter turnout and engage the ethnic media in brainstorming how to shape an effective ad campaign targeting ethnic communities.
Representatives from 40 ethnic media outlets attended briefings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Robert McKay, president of the McKay Family Foundation and the initiative’s chief sponsor, spoke on the initiative’s goals, and six community-based organizations and other community leaders expressed their endorsements. The endorsements were covered by the media who were recipients of an ad buy led by NAM.
The attending media put forth several potential slogans for the print ad, made plans to reach community members through religious and community leaders as well as celebrities, and agreed to publicize the campaign through their own outlets.
Following the meeting, NAM arranged for journalists from the ethnic media in Southern California to interview Prop 52 spokespeople and supporters. Thirty-eight publications ran stories on the proposition, including a dozen stories in Chinese and a dozen in Filipino publications.
Half the attending news outlets also published editorials endorsing the proposition and laying out arguments in favor of the initiative in cogent detail.
Drawing on a $150,000 budget, NAM also placed advertisements in 52 ethnic media outlets in the weeks leading up to election day. Ads targeted Pan-Asian, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Asian-Indian, Japanese, Russian, Iranian and Armenian communities with a straightforward message: “Make voting a 1 step process. Vote yes on Prop 52.”
Goal: Earn statewide support for same-day voter registration.
Impact: Proposition 52 won over 45% of the vote in those counties where NAM’s advertising campaign was focused (though the initiative did not pass statewide). Three of the four counties in which Prop 52 did pass--San Francisco, Alameda and Marin--were targeted by the campaign. Statewide, voter support for Prop 52 largely corresponded to the fraction of the population that was non-white, suggesting that targeted outreach to ethnic communities was in fact effective.
Goal: Raise ethnic media’s visibility as essential communication vehicles for increasing civic participation among eligible and future voters.
Impact: The ad-buy helped reach ethnic communities in San Francisco, Marin, Alameda, San Mateo, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Monterey, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties. Most of the areas in which Prop 52 received over 45% of the vote correlated with where the ethnic media ad-buy was concentrated. Further, editorial endorsements of the proposition by ethnic media outlets and community-based organizations were a direct result of the campaign’s choice to conduct outreach via NAM and underscored the importance of an inclusive approach to political initiatives.