April 15, 2007

New survey reveals that 95 percent of young adults believe that... “What goes around comes around”

The Advertising Council, in partnership with the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP), announced today the launch of new public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to increase civic engagement among 18-24 year olds. An extension of their ongoing campaign to encourage young adults to exercise their right to vote, the new PSAs urge young adults to become involved in their communities by voting, volunteering and becoming informed about current events. The ads promote youth civic engagement by focusing on the idea of “karma.”

According to FVAP, during the last twenty-five years there has been a dramatic decrease in voter turnout among 18-24 year-olds. In addition, a 2002 report conducted by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement found that 57 percent of American youth aged 15-25 are completely disengaged from civic life and politics. Furthermore, adults who began volunteering as youth are twice as likely to volunteer as those who did not volunteer when they were younger, according to a 2001 report from the Independent Sector and Youth Service America.

Created pro bono by Atlanta-based ad agency WestWayne, Inc., the new PSAs continue the campaign’s focus on targeting 18-24 year olds, the largest group of non-voters in America (U.S. Census Bureau), but they expand the issue beyond voting. The ads aim to encourage young adults to become involved in their communities in any way they can, including voting in local elections, volunteering in their spare time or reading the newspaper and discussing current events with friends. The television, radio, print, outdoor and Web ads humorously show audiences what happens to people when they are not civically engaged and encourage them to “get good karma.”

A nationwide study among 18-24 year olds conducted by the Ad Council and Lightspeed Research in March 2007 found that 95 percent of 18-24 year olds believe “what goes around comes around” and the vast majority (69 percent) believe in “karma.” Additionally, young adults are more likely to attribute the positive experiences in their lives to their positive behaviors (75 percent) as opposed to having “good luck” (56 percent).

Furthermore, approximately one in four young adults (24 percent) surveyed had volunteered in the past month and more than half (62 percent) cited a reason for getting involved as “good things come to those who help others.”

“Our new compelling research reveals that the idea of having good ‘karma’ is a concept that is not only credible for our target audience, but it can be a motivating factor for civic engagement,” according to Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of The Advertising Council. “We are proud to continue our successful partnership with the Federal Voting Assistance Program to encourage young adults throughout the country to become more involved so they can get good karma.”

The campaign uses humor to communicate to young adults that acting on what is important to them will protect them from having “bad karma,” or negative consequences. All of the PSAs end with the tagline “Stay on the universe’s good side. Volunteer. Vote. Get involved.” The PSAs direct audiences to visit, a new interactive website, for tips on how to become civically engaged.

“While voter turnout (among young adults) increased in last year's mid-term election, there are still far too many young people in our country who are completely disengaged from civic life and politics,” said Polli Brunelli, Director, Federal Voting Assistance Program. “Our new PSAs and interactive website aim to encourage and empower 18-24 year olds to become more involved in their communities by volunteering, voting or just learning more about current events. The campaign is entertaining and compelling -- I believe it will engage young adults throughout the country.”

Developed by West Wayne, introduces young adults to a new world called “Karmalot,” which features activities and mini-games where visitors are rewarded for being civically active. Activities such as volunteering and registering to vote can improve the visitor’s “karma score,” while points are deducted for inactivity and disengagement. Hidden links throughout the site direct young adults to additional websites, such as and, where they can find opportunities to get more involved in their communities.

“The campaign recognizes our belief that the social tenets of friendship govern the relationships between people and causes,” said Richard Ward, CEO of WestWayne. “Our collective goal is to create, deepen and foster the relationships between young adults and civic engagement through authentic, original content. We are extremely proud to collaborate with The Advertising Council on”

The PSAs are being distributed to media outlets nationwide in May. Per the Ad Council model, the new ads will air in advertising time that is donated by the media. Since its launch in 1980, the Vote campaign has received more than $500 million in donated advertising time and space.

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