Campaign to Save the Troy, MI Library is Brilliant
Have you seen this video yet? Book burning party in Troy, MI - be there or be square. Ok, it's not really a book burning party but people didn't know that....at first.
Here's the scoop from the Leo Burnett/Arc Worldwide agency - the creative geniuses who won a gold prize in the Effie awards for this campaign.
"Troy Public Library would close for good unless voters approved a tax increase. With little money, six weeks until the election, facing a well organized anti-tax group who'd managed to get two previous library-saving tax increases to fail, we had to be bold. We posed as a clandestine group who urged people to vote to close the library so they could have a book burning party. Public outcry over the idea drowned out the anti-tax opposition and created a ground-swell of support for the library, which won by a landslide."
Watch the video about the campaign below.
Pretty genius, right? Without going in to the politics surrounding what led to this campaign, I think this is a great example of how a well orchestrated campaign, at the right time, can work to achieve results. When people think of Leo Burnett they think of an advertising agency, but this campaign came out of Arc Worldwide - the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett, not the creative/ad side of the house.
The folks behind this campaign - and those at the Troy Public Library - clearly understood that while approving a 0.7% tax increase to save the public library was important, it was hardly the kind of vote that would drive people to the polls. And, with those on the other side spending big money to oppose the tax, it looked like the library was certain to close. By first drawing people's ire by encouraging people to vote "no" so they could hold a book burning party and playing in to their emotions - and then ultimately revealing the true meaning behind the campaign - the citizens of Troy were able to see that closing the library was equivalent to burning books and turned out in droves to vote yes to save the public library.
Am I suggesting that this sort of campaign would work for everyone? Absolutely not. I know some clients I would never in a million years suggest this kind of campaign for. But, I do think it shows that public relations, now more than ever, goes beyond just writing and issuing press releases and hoping the media will pick up on your story. For the right client, or cause, this sort of campaign goes directly to the people who matter and gets picked up by the media second.
So what do you think about the book burning hoax? Genius or dishonest?