THE BLOG
09/28/2016 04:26 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Labels? I'll Take Three to Go

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Ken Klein, EVP, Outdoor Advertising Association of America

I am not a teacher.  But I spend enough time around them to hear this hushed after-hours question about students veering outside the norm:  Do they have a label?

That can’t be good, the label. 

In politics, labeling is a close cousin of name calling.  Here’s a verbatim exchange from Monday’s presidential debate:

HILLARY CLINTON:  . . . this is a man who has called women pigs, slobs, and dogs, and someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers.

DONALD TRUMP:  I never said that.

Against the backdrop of the raspy election, a curious media campaign promotes voter registration and turnout by embracing labels, treating them as friends.

The idea, cooked up by an ad agency in Rochester, NY (Partners + Napier), is to cast the label “voter” as transcendent over the rest.

Mash-ups of other self-descriptors (gay, straight, black, white) on billboards and other donated out of home (OOH) ad spaces drive traffic to a website with easy access to home-state voter-registration info.

This website (VoteToCount.com) also allows visitors to pick their own labels, and share home-spun billboards on social media.  Average time spent on the VoteToCount.com site is 3.4 minutes, not bad for an electorate accused of lethargy during a long, noisy campaign.

This week, the campaign is targeting Advertising Week attendees in Times Square with labels specific to media professionals.

For decades, hipsters, rappers, rockers, preachers, and civics teachers have pitched voter registration from every pulpit available.  Some of the target audience isn’t buying.  Hello, jury duty.

This latest effort – turning name-calling on its head – deserves credit for trying, and for making labels cool.