Vote to Close the Library Nov. 2nd. Book Burning Party Nov. 5th

October 18, 2021

By Ken Gasque

After the 2008 recession Troy, Michigan, made major cuts to its public spending. One victim was the Troy Public Library. It was given just enough money to function as a storage facility until it shut down.

However, 72 percent of Troy residents wanted to keep the library funded. 20 percent wanted its funding cut.

Troy Citizens United , an anti-tax group, contested any public proposal that included a tax increase. A low turnout of only 19 percent let the Troy Citizens United have their way.

Just before the library was set to close, the city council allowed one last ballot. The vote was scheduled for August 2. The proposal called for a 0.7 percent tax increase.

The Troy Citizens United opposed the proposal on anti-tax grounds. They were joined in opposition by a committee called Safeguarding American Families. It was in favor of closing the library and throwing a book-burning party.

Safeguarding American Families’ ad campaign consisted of yard signs that said: “Vote to close Troy library Nov. 2nd, Book Burning Party Nov. 5th.” They used social media with posts like “There are 200,000 reasons to close the Troy Library. They’re called books.”

This campaign created a stir. Leaders, voters and the local media mobilized. The public was fooled. The campaign was designed by Leo Burnett advertising agency to save the library.

The real message was revealed just before the election… “A vote against the library is like a vote to burn books.”

The objective was to change the conversation from taxes to libraries. On November 2nd the voter turnout doubled, and the library had 58 percent of the vote. The library was saved.

Advertise… it pays. Creative advertising pays better… much better.

Bill Bernbach, former CEO of Dole Dane Bernbach, said, “The truth isn’t the truth till people believe you, and they can’t believe you if they don’t know what you’re saying, and they can’t know what you are saying if they don’t listen, they won’t listen unless you’re interesting, and you won’t be interesting unless you say things imaginatively, originally, freshly.”


About Ken Gasque

Ken Gasque is a brand developer, marketing planner and designer. Ken works with small companies and Fortune 500 companies who recognize the need to differentiate their products and services to stand out in a cluttered market. Ken is a highly visual, outside-the-box-thinker on advertising, branding and marketing—his work reflects his belief that “We buy with our eyes.” Ken writes and lectures on his experiences developing brands (good and bad).