October 25, 2002

Residents of the island of Puerto Rico have long been known for their political activeness and their sense of civic responsibility around election time. Historically, the same could not be said of Puerto Ricans living stateside. That trend has changed thanks in part to a non-partisan, voter registration campaign commissioned by the Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration.

The Government Office located in Washington, D.C., tapped Garcia360° in San Antonio, TX, to develop a campaign that raised civic awareness and prompted an unprecedented number of Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. to register and vote during the primaries and November 2002 general elections.

In contrast to other Hispanics who have migrated to the United States, Puerto Ricans are Citizens and as such, share the right to vote. "We found through research, that there were four primary reasons for the general lack of voter participation from this group," states Luis Garcia, President of Garcia360° "A lack of socialization, awareness, and convenience surrounding the voter registration and election process were key deterrents. However, the strongest obstacle was the population’s general sense of cynicism."

While some Puerto Rican’s share an interest and understanding of the political issues affecting their lives, few believe they have the power to do anything to influence these issues. An exit poll study conducted earlier this year, also indicated that 70 percent of non-registered Puerto Rican voters believed that the government generally ignored them.

García 360°developed an integrated campaign that countered this apathy by strengthening the bond Puerto Rican’s have with their heritage, and ultimately their ties to the island of Puerto Rico, through recognizable icons.

"Puerto Rican’s are a proud and culturally rich group. Seven in 10 of non-registered voters feel that being a part of their Puerto Rican community (where they live) is an extremely important part of their lives," stated Erika Prosper the Agency’s Director of Client Service and Strategic Planning. "This connection proved to be the defining element in developing our campaign."

The campaign titled "Que Nada Nos Detenga" (Let Nothing Stop Us) incorporated TV, radio, print, Internet, out of home advertising (OOH), and grassroots elements - all focused on fostering pride in the community and nurturing a sense of self worth among Puerto Ricans. The Puerto Rican Flag itself, became a prominent figure in the creative. "We appealed to their strong sense of pride and responsibility toward their community," explains Leo Ross, Creative Director on the campaign for Garcia 360°. "And they as a community answered the call."

15 percent of Puerto Ricans, close to 70,000, were first–time voters who cast their ballots on November 5th, nearly a 70 percent increase in first–time voters from the 2000 general election, as reported by Voter News Services (VNS). Exit polls conducted by Bendixen and Associates on Election Day, also demonstrated a campaign awareness rate of 87 percent among all voters.

Says Garcia, "This was in fact a very rewarding project. Everyone on the team is very pleased with the results and we are eager to build on this momentum."

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