Unilever drive aims to up Hispanic voting

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ: Unilever Bestfoods is launching a national voter registration drive in the Hispanic community. The effort is using Miami-based Hispania Public Relations to generate media attention and to garner volunteers for the effort.

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, NJ: Unilever Bestfoods is launching a national voter registration drive in the Hispanic community. The effort is using Miami-based Hispania Public Relations to generate media attention and to garner volunteers for the effort.

Brands involved in the drive are Lipton Tea and Soups, Ragu, Knorr, Country Crock, Hellmann's/Best Foods, WishBone and Lawry's. Hispania has worked with Knorr for three years.

The voter registration effort will be tied to a Unilever promotion called La Plaza del Sabor, which sets up a mock town plaza at Hispanic cultural events and festivals to showcase its brands.

"Our mission was to find a community relations/PR angle to it," said Sergio Lopez-Miro, president of Hispania. The plaza will include a voter registration booth as it visits 13 festivals now through September, said Lopez-Miro. The first effort took place earlier this month in Miami and was covered in The Miami Herald, he said.

The drive is expected to reach 3.3 million people who attend the festivals in cities like

LA, Chicago, and New York. The effort is non-partisan, Lopez-Miro said. "It's a way to give back to the community and endear the client to the community," he said.

The agency has three people reaching out to primarily Hispanic media to publicize the effort. The agency also plans to work with Hispanic student groups and an association of Hispanic elected officials to find volunteers to staff the booths.

While there are an estimated 23 million voting-age Hispanics in the US, the US Census Bureau has said that only about one-fourth of them voted in the 2000 election. Both major parties are targeting Hispanic voters in potentially pivotal states, such as Florida and New Mexico.

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