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Tu Voto es Cosa Seria

Written By Flavia Arsenault | Jun 29, 2016

Get out the vote. Rock the vote. These are familiar phrases, but over several decades of use, they’ve lost their impact.

And there are varying opinions on how to motivate voters. You could utilize guilt (No vote? No voice!) shame (You can’t complain if you don’t vote!) or populist inspiration (Change we can believe in).

Los Angeles designer Agustín González Garza decided to instead advocate for a succinct, positive message to get people to the polls, with a particular focus on the Latino electorate.

“I decided to launch a project that went right to the core of why I think Latinos don’t vote,” he said. “Here’s a community that faces very difficult circumstances in migrating to this country. They leave behind their families, they leave behind their homes, their food–all the things that are important in people’s lives. They become a very active part of the economy of this country, but they don’t really participate in political life.”

“Posters work because they’re not editorials.”

With Hispanic Americans now constituting 17% of the United States population, according to the latest census data, Agustín decided to leverage his participation in AIGA’s quadrennial Get Out the Vote initiative to engage this increasingly-powerful bloc.

Get Out the Vote is part of AIGA’s larger Design for Democracy program, and this year it’s encouraging members across the country to design nonpartisan posters with the sole purpose of inspiring people to vote.

“Posters work because they’re not editorials,” Agustín said. “Posters go on the street, so their power is in their simplicity and their ability to catch someone’s eye in a passing moment.”

Himself an AIGA national board member, Agustín shared this and other poster-designing wisdom with a dozen members of the LA chapter just a few days before the California primary. They’d all gathered for an ideation session and poster design-a-thon hosted by Struck, an agency with offices in LA, Portland, and Salt Lake City.

He was also kind enough to sit down with us to elaborate on his personal contribution to the project, a poster and subsequent 15-second television ad featuring famed actor and Los Angeles-native Edward James Olmos.


“He’s not just an actor,” Agustín said. “He is someone who’s been an activist for social good for so many years that just by hearing his name, I trust his words.”

Thankfully, Mr. Olmos was more than game–he heard Agustín’s idea for the poster and immediately signed up. Suddenly the campaign had a trusted face, one not only of “Battlestar Galatica” and “Stand and Deliver” fame, but with social credibility in the community it sought to rouse.

“This is one of those terms that we all relate to and remember.”

Shortly thereafter, Agustín had the fortune of meeting Jorge Mettey, VP of News and Community Outreach at the Azteca Spanish-language television network.

“I call him the godfather of the television component of this campaign because he said, ‘We’ve got to give this poster life,’” Agustín recalled. “He has been a tremendous partner. He’s taken [this message] out to millions of people’s homes.”

A recognizable face plus exposure isn’t going to sway voters by itself. You need a concise, relatable and immediately motivating message. Agustín settled on “Tu Voto es Cosa Seria” because it’s familiar–something the Latino electorate may have heard before.

“Moms tell you, in Spanish, ‘¡es cosa seria!’ which means it’s a serious matter, it’s a serious thing,” he said. “It’s something that people grow up with everywhere.”

In the environment where the campaign lives (having already been featured at Los Angeles bus stops and broadcast on Telemundo, Azteca and Univision) familiarity is a very powerful tool.

“One of the wonderful things about us, Hispanics or Latinos, who move from our countries to the United States is that we long for traditions, we long for things that we heard when we were kids–we connect with that,” Agustín said. “This is one of those terms that we all relate to and remember.”

There’s still time to design your own poster: submissions are open through Election Day, November 8th. See you at the polls.

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