In 2010 Annual Conference, Tuesday

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With only a month to go until Election Day and an electorate distracted by an historic presidential election, Ron Sachs Communications used limited resources to launch an Internet-based campaign to highlight Amendment 4’s conservation message.

In a breakout session, Erica Villaneuva, Senior Account Executive at Ron Sachs Communications, shared insights into how the Ron Sachs’ team designed and implemented a simple, strategic, funny and memorable campaign that educated and motivated Floridians to approve the statewide amendment. The novel campaign, featuring talking animals, helped to vault voter support from 37 percent to 68 percent on Election Day.

Villaneuva also won the Dick Pope Golden Image Award at the 2009 FPRA Annual Conference for this campaign.

Goal – A 60% pass vote, as it is needed in Florida for approval.

Core Alliance – One person from the Florida Wildlife Federation also worked with The Nature Conservancy and the Audubon of Florida and was the main contact person for approval during the campaign generation period.

Situation Analysis – Some downfalls at the onset of the program included limited time, with only one month left for Election Day; a ballot that was confusing and full of legal jargon; and a small budget. Airwaves were also being flooded with negative political ads, such as the marriage ban and Obama vs. McCain election. Ron Sachs’ team needed something that would cut through the clutter and get noticed.

Research – Didn’t have much time for research to find out if people liked bears or not. Only had a month.

Planning  – Developed a logo. Played with the elements of the leaf, water drop and bear footprint to resemble the recycle trademark.

Key Message Points – Save land. Save wildlife. Save taxes. Yes on 4.

Implementation

  • Core Alliances had email addresses of all their members and the Ron Sachs’s team sent a series of Constant Contact emails to the alliance members.
  • Made the spokesperson the Florida Bear, since people really love talking animals. The bear had a Facebook profile page, a Twitter account and a YouTube page.
  • The team got a bear costume, put it on an intern and on Election Day, the bear hung out in front of the courthouse with a yard sign. CNN noticed the bear that cut through the noise of the rallying McCain supporters, and got the Ron Sachs’s team national media coverage for Amendment 4.
  • Selectively placed media due to a limited budget.
  • Did earned media and targeted political and environmental blogs.
  • Villaneuva and her team made a video in her office with her boss’s guitar talent and a team that sang the “4-4-4 song”. It was a big hit and showed that effective messages can be created with a small budget.

Sources – Ron Sachs’ team used a mixture of Animated Digital Advertisements, HTML Email Campaign, Paid Media, Newspaper Advertisement, Outdoor Sign and Viral Videos.

Outcome – Obtained a 68% yes vote. Got high profile endorsements, such as Governor Charlie Crist, former Governor Bob Martinez and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Additional local grass-roots support was gained and included more than 90 environmental groups.

Questions and Answers

Q. Are there things you would have liked to do in combination with the things you did for this campaign?

A. Yes, we would have liked to do Facebook Ads, more media placements.

Q. Was Election Day stressful?

A. It wasn’t stressful at all. I had a lot of fun on Election Day because I woke up early and hung out with the bear in front of the courthouse all day. We were really just hoping for a 60% pass rate, and we were so happy to get 68%.

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