Yes on Question 1: 2010
In 2010, the MA Package Store Association, the Beer Distributors of MA, and the MA Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association were losing customers to competitors in tax-free New Hampshire. These organizations enlisted our firm to serve as the ballot campaign manager for what would ultimately be the Yes on 1 Committee. Our goal was to repeal a state sales tax on alcohol passed by the Massachusetts legislature in August 2009.
We immediately began in-depth research on the existing political climate as well as extensive message testing through focus group of our target audiences. Based on our research findings, we devised and executed a multi-faceted, integrated communications campaign that consisted of a large scale grassroots effort and an extensive state-wide earned and paid media strategy that leveraged print, online and broadcast coverage. Additionally, we worked to educate voters and to deliver key messages by positioning this new tax as a “double” tax given that Massachusetts consumers were already paying federal and state excise taxes on alcohol purchases.
In September, 2010, Question 1 polling indicated that our opponents were prevailing by 60 – 36 margin. And despite being outspent by $1.5 million, by Election Day we had successfully used research, a humorous approach in a sea of negative ads, a concentrated campaign period, and clear, concise messages to reach our target audiences: independent, male voters. In the end, Yes on Question 1 won a contest that even our clients thought was impossible, by an 88,000 vote margin.