Provocative New ACLU Advertising Series Uses American Icons in Message on Racial Profiling

June 2, 2000 12:00 am

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NEW YORK–In a provocative new national advertisement, the American Civil Liberties Union presents stark evidence that racial bias is a fact of life in America, highlighting how skin color is still being used as a cause for suspicion and a sufficient reason to violate people’s rights.

The full-page advertisement, scheduled to run on the inside back cover of this Sunday’s New York Times magazine and in the June 5 issue of The New Yorker, features a photograph of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the left and one of mass murderer Charles Manson on the right.

Director of the ACLU.

Glasser said that increasingly, the organization is taking a consumer marketing approach to building new awareness and support for its causes. “The ACLU is committed to using every means available to get its message out, and we’ve found rich opportunities on Madison Avenue as well as in Silicon Alley,” he said, noting that the print advertising campaign has a major Web-site component.

The advertisements are aimed not at ardent opponents or only at dedicated ACLU members, Glasser said, but primarily at the vast majority of “persuadables” in the middle: people who are highly likely to share the ACLU’s core values even if they don’t agree with all of its policies.

The creative minds behind the series, DeVito/Verdi Advertising, also developed

last year’s ACLU advertising series, which included messages on racial profiling, religious liberty and police brutality.

“Our work becomes more meaningful every time we can stir up passions for a cause that we believe in,” said Ellis Verdi, President of DeVito/Verdi. “We think people will respond to the visceral truth of the Manson/King ad.”

Based in New York City, DeVito/Verdi is known for its controversial, attention-getting ads, including a recent print advocacy campaign for the Pro-Choice Public Education Project on the right to choose abortion.

DeVito/Verdi is one of the most recognized creative agencies in the industry and was named Best Small Creative Agency in the US for 5 years (including this year) by the American Association of Advertising Agencies. The agency is well known for its award-winning creative work for Sony, Circuit City, Daffy’s, Linens’nThings,, and Canon, to name a few.

The ACLU advertising campaign will be featured on the organization’s website,, with links to relevant documents and news about each issue. Advertisements on a broad range of ACLU issues are currently in the works.

The ACLU is a nationwide, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and preserving the Bill of Rights for all individuals through litigation, legislation and public education.

Headquartered in New York City, the ACLU has 53 staffed affiliates in major cities, more than 300 chapters nationwide, and a legislative office in Washington, DC. The bulk of the annual $40 million budget is raised by contributions from members — 275,000 strong — and gifts and grants from other individuals and foundations.

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