Don't Rock -- Folk The Vote

Who says rock and roll must have all the fun during political season? To promote its yearly folk festival, Kent State University created a mock political campaign urging music lovers to “Vote Folk.”

Even better, the campaign, which ran until the festival’s Sept. 22 close, took place in the swing state of Ohio.

The 46th WKSU Folk Festival used guerilla, outdoor and print ads to “Let the Folk be Heard.”

During the festival, attendees seen wearing a silk-screened festival t-shirt or paper lapel pins with sayings like: “I Voted Folk,” or “I Folked 2012” scored free stickers and t-shirts.

Yard signs gave residents a third option in the presidential race, encouraging them to “Vote Folk,” while listing the festival acts. The back of the yard sign stated “One Party for All,” with an area to write in specific performance locations and times.

“The idea came from thinking about how, as the election gets closer, political opinions get more polarized,” said Dave Muller, associate creative director/art director at Marcus Thomas, the agency behind the campaign.

“But folk music brings people together, regardless of politics,” Muller added. “As we talked about that, we got interested in doing a politically themed campaign with a politically neutral message. Our call to action was ‘Vote Folk,’ with our campaign platform ‘One Party for All.’ With Americana and past political ads as inspiration, we thought that the timeliness of the message would resonate well.”

On-campus, seven posters ran in bars and restaurants with headline stating: “Polls are Open until the Bars Close,” “Music by the Folk, for the Folk,” and “Let the Folk be Heard.”

With all the on-campus advertising, you’d think the target audience was college students. “No, just the opposite,” said Glenda Terrell, account supervisor at Marcus Thomas. “The primary target audience is folk music enthusiasts. Many people travel from several surrounding states to attend the Folk Fest and return year after year.”

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