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How Marriage Equality Supporters Beat The "Princess" Ad (Change in ad strategy pays off)
Buzz Feed ^ | 11/20/2012 | Chris Geidner

Posted on 11/20/2012 7:27:56 AM PST by SeekAndFind

WASHINGTON — The surprise sweep for marriage equality efforts at the polls in 2012 came after a dramatic shift in the television ads their backers ran — a change that came about after a year-long research effort to crack the code of previously successful ads run by marriage equality opponents that focused on "gay marriage" being taught in schools.

Among the key changes: A shift away from talk of "rights" to a focus on committed relationships; a decision to address "values" directly as being learned at home; and an attempt to give voters "permission" to change their minds, according to elements of the research shared with BuzzFeed.

The research was "instrumental in helping us figure out our path," said Zach Silk, who served as the campaign manager to approve Washington's Referendum 74.

The research was sponsored by Third Way — a centrist Democratic think tank — that conducted an extended round of surveys beginning in September 2010 "aimed at answering a single question: how do we most effectively persuade people in the middle to support relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples, including marriage?"

National groups like the Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry have highlighted their engagement, direct giving and fundraising for the states' efforts — which were significant — noting longtime partnerships and support provided throughout the states. The national groups also have been careful to credit state organizations with tremendous leadership in getting the volunteer base and coalition support necessary to win their ballot measures and for addressing the specifics of the states’ dynamics, from Maryland and Washington, where referenda on marriage laws were passed, to Maine, where a marriage equality initiative was approved, to Minnesota, where a marriage amendment was defeated for only the second time.

Each group ran a different campaign, based on the local demographics, geography and past experience. Washington advocates, in 2009, had succeeded in approving a referendum to allow the state’s domestic partnership law to go into effect. In Maine, also in 2009, a referendum on a marriage equality law passed by the legislature resulted in the law being rejected by the voters. In Minnesota, advocates had time to prepare, as the measure was put on the 2012 ballot in spring 2011. People in Maryland had been engaged on the issue for more than a year as well, as the legislature had considered a marriage equality bill in 2011 before passing it in 2012.

Faith and, particularly in Maryland, black communities were engaged directly. Fund-raising and field operations were systematic and far outpaced past efforts of marriage equality supporters and this year's efforts by opponents. Social media, in its infancy in 2008, was a key part of campaigns' and outside engagement. President Obama and the Democratic Party, along with prominent Republicans and straight sports stars, were speaking out in support of marriage equality. And, it was the fifth federal election held in the country since some of its residents were legally able to marry someone of the same sex.

All of those very big changes since California voters approved Proposition 8 in 2008 could have made the difference in the four states this time around.

But, for those who have been watching the campaigns — including HRC's new president, Chad Griffin — there was another change, too: The ad campaigns.

At a post-election wrap up on LGBT issues organized by the Williams Institute on Nov. 13, Griffin — who lived in California before returning to D.C. earlier this year to run HRC — talked about how slow the campaign in California had been to respond to the Proposition 8 campaign's "Princess" ad that featured a child talking about how she was taught in school that a "prince married a prince" and that she "can marry a princess."


This time around, however, the research conducted behind the scenes by Third Way provided "instrumental" tools for marriage equality supporters, enabling the campaigns to be prepared to respond quickly to the ads should opponents run them again. Third Way conducted four rounds of research, from psychological research to focus-group-type message testing to national polling, in its effort.

So, what did Third Way find? A year before the 2012 election, Third Way had completed a confidential report — provided exclusively to BuzzFeed following the election — purporting to provide "The Answer to the Middle’s Questions on Marriage for Gay Couples." This was the starting point, multiple states' campaign managers said, for their own state-specific research.

Third Way's report detailed:

We learned after three years of exhaustive qualitative and quantitative research that those in the middle are grappling with a series of unresolved, conflicting internal values and complex beliefs when it comes to marriage. ...

Those in the middle are not fully resolved on what marriage would mean for kids—not the kids of gay couples, but their own children. Will values about sex and marriage be taught in the home or elsewhere? And they have yet to reconcile their desire to be fair and inclusive toward gay couples with their religious convictions. Can I still be faithful to my religious beliefs and open to marriage for gay couples?

The six key findings highlighted in the November 2011 document were:

• Commitment trumps rights, a point made in prior research by Freedom to Marry as well: “Leading with commitment will show the middle that gay people want to join the institution of marriage, not change it.”

• Kids move voters: “In our past qualitative research, we found that underlying these concerns about children are deeply emotional fears about loss of parental control. These fears were also evident in the poll data.”

• The home is our turf; schools are their turf: “When compared directly to other possible responses to attacks around children, parents teaching core values ranks highest in persuasiveness.”

• On kids—turn down the heat: “One effective way to do that is to remind those in the middle of something they already believe to be true—that 'kids will be kids,' and in reality, they are much more interested in other things than they are in whether gay couples are allowed to marry.”

• Give people permission to change their minds about why gay couple[s] marry: “Using a messenger who could describe changing his own opinion on why gay couples want to marry modeled this positive evolution on the very issue that is most crucial to gaining support.”

• Religion is a hurdle, not a wall: “[E]ven among those groups in the middle who were more concerned about religion, overwhelming majorities said ‘It is not for me to judge.’ … [I]t is crucial to include reaffirmation of religious liberty protections as a significant part of supporters’ message framework.”

Lanae Erickson Hatalsky, the director of social policy and politics at Third Way, told BuzzFeed, "We worked with Freedom to Marry and others to share it with the campaigns right at the beginning of their getting organized," noting that they held multi-hour briefings with the various state campaigns.

As expected, the opponents' campaigns ran ads — the same ads, more or less — orchestrated by Frank Schubert, the man behind the California Proposition 8 "Princess" ad.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: advertising; gaymarriage; homosexualagenda; homosexuality

1 posted on 11/20/2012 7:28:04 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I guess if Princess Pelosi married Princess Sebelius it would be just so marvy.

2 posted on 11/20/2012 7:37:56 AM PST by Enterprise ("Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." Voltaire)
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To: SeekAndFind

Experts in marketing perversion.

“How do we sell sodomy?”

3 posted on 11/20/2012 7:39:40 AM PST by SoFloFreeper
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To: SeekAndFind

Massive amounts of corporate money, massive organizations.

We should learn from the above article. We don’t get the corporate money, we get the hate from the media.

The above analysis does not take into accdount the overwhelming support of television for gays.

So many people say ‘they are only three peercent of the population, how can this happen?’

gives hope for conservatives, if and when we find a leader (the media will savage him/her but we have to bite the bullet on that one).

We are only about 40% of the population. If 3% can bend people to their will (no pun there) so can we.

4 posted on 11/20/2012 7:45:24 AM PST by squarebarb ( Fairy tales are basically true.)
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To: SoFloFreeper
“How do we sell sodomy?”

There was an excellent marketing firm dealing in this matter, Benjamin Dover and Pierce Em located in Gomorrah.

Butt they went out of business.

5 posted on 11/20/2012 7:45:54 AM PST by 17th Miss Regt
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To: squarebarb

The 3% are not what matter,
what matters is the growing percent of people wanting to shake their fist in God’s face,
and using the 3% to do so.

6 posted on 11/20/2012 7:48:05 AM PST by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: SeekAndFind
They’re clever. The bullet points remind me of the "Screwtape Letters". No doubt the same ultimate author. Well, Jesus said stay on the narrow road for a reason. I never liked crowds anyway.
7 posted on 11/20/2012 7:56:57 AM PST by throwback (The object of opening the mind, is as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I think the real question is when will the states that only passsed their amendments in the low-mid 50% ranges start to repeal them by popular vote. Of course they won’t have to if our black robed masters decide to simply cut out the middle men.


8 posted on 11/20/2012 7:59:22 AM PST by Ransomed
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To: SeekAndFind

What about people who really love their horse? What about them? Why can’t they marry their horse?

Maybe people really have the capcity to love more than one spouse. Why should they be denied the right to marry them?

9 posted on 11/20/2012 8:18:41 AM PST by Obadiah (Americans said, "Give us Barabbas!")
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To: SeekAndFind

Companies pay millions of dollars to advertise - BECAUSE advertising works. The whole liberal agenda is ‘advertised’ for free by the MSM... and we wonder why they’re winning? If we want to this to stop we have to cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and other liberal media outlets. That includes donations to liberal nonprofits. We can’t ‘fight them’ while supplying them with the money to work against us...

10 posted on 11/20/2012 8:22:46 AM PST by GOPJ (The economy is so bad MSNBC had to lay off 300 Obama spokesmen - Leno)
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To: Obadiah
Why can’t they marry their horse?
For the same reason you can't sell a house to a horse: in civil terms, marriage is a legal contract. Horses can't enter into legal contracts. People can, and that's what you do on the government side of getting married. That's why you have to go to a court to get a divorce. (You may also have to deal with your church on the religious side, if, for example, you are Catholic.)
11 posted on 11/20/2012 8:28:49 AM PST by Mr. Know It All
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To: SeekAndFind

The next states to approve gay marriage by popular vote in 2014/2016:
Rhode Island, New Jersey, Deleware, Oregon and California. And maybe Pennsylvania. Others, like Michigan and Minnesota are not far off either.

12 posted on 11/20/2012 9:41:59 AM PST by floridavoter2
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To: SoFloFreeper
“How do we sell sodomy?” ---------------------------------------------------------

13 posted on 11/20/2012 10:16:54 AM PST by massmike (At least no one is wearing a "Ron Paul - 2016" tee shirt........yet!)
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To: massmike

It’s in my collection. I also have “The Pink Swastika”, a free download.

14 posted on 11/20/2012 11:34:28 AM PST by USAF80
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To: SeekAndFind

Tin Foil Hat Time...

Wouldn’t the the promotion of gay marriage help the implementation of Agenda 21? Gay couples don’t breed (okay, they may adopt and some go through medically assisted conception, but that is still a very small number). They also tend to congregate in urban areas. Very “sustainable”.

15 posted on 11/20/2012 11:42:19 AM PST by Crusher138 ("Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just")
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To: SeekAndFind

I wonder if the election fraud carried over to ballot measures.

16 posted on 11/21/2012 11:09:26 PM PST by little jeremiah (Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point. CSLewis)
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