During 2011, a new “Emergency Manager” law in Michigan had stripped away the rights of cities, townships and other public entities, giving a so-called Emergency Manager the right to assume all power over elected officials. With the obvious issues associated with the law, a volunteer-led coalition led by Stand Up for Democracy placed a repeal proposal on the ballot—titled Proposal 1—for the November 2012 election.




RENEE WALKER & ASSOCIATES (RW&A) was one of three consulting firms hired—based our past political successes including advocacy campaigns, positioning, strategy and multicultural communications—to develop and execute the campaign. RW&A was selected as the lead consultant with both strategy and budgetary responsibility.

Our efforts included producing a targeted paid media campaign, including four television and multiple radio ads. Based on the testing of the ads, we determined that one particular ad would be the most effective, as it produced the desired outcomes among a broad range of our targeted voter demographics.


RW&A developed a single urban radio ad to further promote the passage of Proposal—during the last few weeks of the campaign. Additionally, we produced a joint radio ad to support Proposal 2, a collective bargaining proposal on the ballot.


To help us mobilize the African-American voter demographic, RW&A produced an urban media campaign—including newspaper advertisements and a radio ad—for media outlets in Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan.

The repeal was considered an issue for Michigan’s urban areas, but required the support of the entire state’s population in order to succeed.


According to the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the six interest groups engaged in the proposal section of the ballot raised and spent an estimated $152 million, with approximately $100 millionexpended on media advertising. Although our campaign budget was just $1.5 million for the research, production and paid media, we expended $1 million to pass the ballot referendum.

In the end, our community engagement, political advocacy and multicultural communications hit their mark. Voters from across Michigan came out in favor of repealing Public Act 4—The Emergency Manager Law—by voting ‘NO’ on Proposal 1 by a margin of 53% to 47%.


Of the six proposals on the ballot, Proposal 1 achieved the sole labor-backed proposal victory. Thus, our comprehensive, research-based and strategic communications program was a big win for the people of Michigan.


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