CAMPAIGNS: Public Awareness - Tattoo tactic for Dacorum youth votes

Client: Dacorum Borough Council

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Express Yourself

Timescale: September - October 2000 (six weeks total)

Budget: £6,000

The Borough of Dacorum contains the towns of Hemel Hempstead,

Berkhamsted and Tring, plus a number of villages. Even before June's

general election, Dacorum Borough Council realised that young people

were the least likely to vote.

Research had already shown that they perceived politics as boring and

irrelevant, so Dacorum Borough Council's communications team set out to

connect with the borough's youth.

The campaign was voted Campaign of the Year in the IPR Local Government

Group Excellence in Communications Awards.


To ensure that young people eligible to vote in the borough were

registered to do so. To engage them using an innovative media mix and to

connect the motivation to vote with other lifestyle elements.

Strategy and Plan

The Express Yourself campaign was launched during Local Democracy Week

in September last year. This coincided with the canvassing for electoral

registration and it was agreed that the campaign should run for six


It was decided that the main thrust of the campaign would be

distributing a range of funky tattoos.

These featured the Express Yourself logo and a ballot box cross. They

were in mono and colour and some glowed under lights.

The backing sheet gave details on how to register to vote and included a

website address. The tattoos were given out in pubs, shops, council

venues, schools and were available via the website.

The main event to be held was Express Yourself night at the local Visage

and Ethos nightclubs. Council officers at the events applied tattoos to

almost 200 clubbers. Spot prizes of champagne and tickets were given

away to those who answered questions about voting and elections.

The tattoo campaign was backed by postcards, posters, T-shirts, and

press releases. These featured images of young people 'expressing

themselves' through activities - rock climbing, basketball and


Local journalists were sent background information, press releases,

photography and tattoos.

The communications team worked in partnership with a school to pilot a

democracy workshop where officers and councillors worked with


New pages were added to the council's website. These were accessed via a

banner ad on the home page and featured information about the campaign,

a downloadable registration form and a feedback button.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign and its objectives had wide coverage in the local


When the coverage was evaluated, its worth was that the team recouped

the total budget of £6,000.

The campaign was highlighted in the Local Government Chronicle as an

example of best practice. Following the democracy workshop, more

students said that they were willing to vote.


After the campaign, 99 per cent of the population in Dacorum registered

to vote did so, the borough's highest ever return.

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