The leader of the nationwide transit-based outdoor advertising campaign to end the government shutdown claimed victory on Tuesday at a press conference in a West Palm Beach law office saying that “We targeted millions of Americans who wanted to make themselves heard through the signing of the outdoor ads and Congress heeded their call.” The campaign featured signable, petition-formatted ads on buses, bus shelters, rail stations, and airports.
Jay Schorr, who heads Vehicles for Democracy (VFD), the coalition that mounted the outdoor advertising effort also announced Tuesday a follow-up transit advertising campaign in support of a constitutional amendment that would allow for a national initiative – the ability of American voters to propose and vote on federal laws.
“This latest government crisis has shown that the time has come for a fourth check and balance on the federal government – the right of Americans to propose and vote on federal legislation,” said Schorr, owner of TMR Multimedia, the Hollywood, Florida-based communications company that created the cutting-edge outdoor advertising campaign to end the government shutdown and the campaign in support of a national voter initiative.
“Congress has proven itself unresponsive and unwilling to yield to the will of the People. So now we’ll help empower the People with our outdoor campaign to take charge of their own legislative destiny.”
Voter initiatives and referenda are commonplace on the local and state levels where city charters and state constitutions provide a means by which voters can propose, overturn and/or modify laws through public elections. While the requirements for voter initiatives vary from state to state, the general procedure involves getting a certain percentage of registered voters (usually ten percent) to sign a petition supporting putting the proposed law on the ballot for a public vote.
Schorr says that the petition-formatted outdoor transit ads are the perfect way to collect the required number of voter signatures to get proposed laws onto ballots.
“Millions of Americans each day use public transportation,” said an ebullient Schorr. “People have had it with Congress, and they want to do something about it. These transit-based outdoor ads are going to change the way Americans pass laws.”
The call for a national initiative constitutional amendment is not new. Many prominent government leaders, businessmen, academicians, and other leaders have endorsed the concept. But getting the requisite signatures in each state and or municipality is a time-consuming and money-intensive task.
“Using transit ads formatted as signable petitions is the most cost-effective way to get the requisite number of signatures,” Schorr said. “We’ve got a captive audience of millions of voters who want to change the way our ineffectual government works. The ads give them the opportunity to voice their opinions where they live, work, and play.”
Today, 24 states and hundreds of municipalities – encompassing 70 percent of U.S. citizens - have voter initiative provisions in their constitutions and charters, according to the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California. The VFD wants to expand that number and work toward passing a federal voter initiative.
“There is no doubt that when these ads are placed before voters they will sign them wholeheartedly,” said Schorr.
Schorr says the option to sign the outdoor ads allows people to actually do something about a stalled political system; to reprimand Congress in the form of overt public prodding.
“Obamacare is probably the hot topic du jour,” Schorr said. “All you hear on TV, online and in the newspapers is, ‘Obamacare … Obamacare … Obamacare.’ While Obamacare is important, if we’d had this type of outdoor campaign years ago the Obamacare debate would have been solved by now … by public proclamation.”
The marketing and political applications for the signable outdoor ads are numerous, according to advertising analysts, especially when embedded chips are included to facilitate instantaneous data collection, market research, polling, and other uses.
“Commuters are a captive audience that is politically and commercially motivated,” said David Leone, who runs a marketing consulting firm in Chicago. “Mobilizing that consumer base translates into a very potent political and marketing force.”
For Schorr, the innovative outdoor advertising campaign is all about making a difference for the good.
“American lawmaking is about to change for the better thanks to our transit outdoor advertising campaign,” proffered Schorr. “The power to govern derives from the people. Our job is to help the people take back the lawmaking power that has always been vested in them.”