Anti -tax groups seem to oppose most everything government does. The public supports much of what government does in providing services. Often good government loses out because people do not vote. Low turnout benefits conservative positions as they tend to vote.
Twice turned down by low turnout out elections, the Troy, Michigan City Council called for one last vote before the Library would close. What happened next would change the two previous voting outcomes.
“True to form, Troy Citizens United — represented at public debates by soon-to-be-mayor Janice Daniels — opposed the proposal on anti-tax grounds. But this time they were joined in their opposition by a committee called Safeguarding American Families, which said it was rooting for the vote to lose so it could throw a book-“party once the library closed.
Yeah that’s right. A book-burning party.
Safeguarding American Families printed up signs that said: “Vote to close Troy library Aug. 2nd, Book burning party Aug 5th.” They planted them on lawns. When the signs got torn up, they replaced them with new ones. They took out an ad in the Troy Times for a clown and an ice cream vendor, to serve as additional entertainment. They started a Facebook page and a Twitter account(“There are 200,000 reasons to close the Troy Library. They’re called books. #BookBurningParty”).
The previously low voter turnout surged when voters realized the consequences of closing their library. They were incensed by the proposed Book Burning Party – which was like something out of Ray Bradbury;s Fahrenheit 451 .
“The whole thing was a hoax. Safeguarding American Families was an invention of the Leo Burnett advertising agency, which had been hired to create a blitz media campaign that would encourage voters to turn out and approve the library-funding proposal. Just before the election, Safeguarding American Families revealed its true message: “A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books.””
This was the key to a successful campaign. First was getting people to pay attention. The second was to reframe the issue from one of taxes to providing a public benefit – namely the value of books and a public library.
“Leo Burnett says its goal was to change the conversation from taxes to libraries. Sure enough, come August 2, voter turnout hit 38 percent and the library proposal passed with 58 percent of the ballot. The ad agency, which pulled off the whole stunt on a donated budget of about $3,500, recently won a 2012 Gold Effie award — given to exceptional marketing campaigns — for its efforts. Somewhere, Ray Bradbury is smiling.”
You can read the full story here on CITYLAB
The Book-Burning Campaign That Saved a Public Library
by ERIC JAFFE JUN 29, 2012