If you were a contestant on a game show such as "Password" and you heard the word "immigrant," would you blurt out the word "illegal" in response? It has been my experience, particularly as it relates to the U.S. Latino community, that the concept of a proud, hardworking and patriotic immigrant has been overshadowed by the negative imagery of the illegal immigrant, an image often associated with crime, cheap labor and abuse of government services.
If we speak about immigrants as we would a brand, then Brand Immigrant is in serious need of a makeover. Why does the word "immigrant" lack the positive and almost glamorous imagery of the word "expat," for example? With the inauguration just days away, Fair Immigration Reform Movement is taking its message directly to Obama.
The group is using advertising to shine a positive light on immigrants, restoring dignity and respect to what was once a highly valued American asset. Taxi toppers -- with images featuring immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam, Ireland and Ethiopia -- make the statement "Mr. President, you can count on me." They will be displayed in Washington throughout Inauguration week, which includes an immigrant reform movement "Day of Action" on Jan. 21.
The strategic work that led to the "Count On Me" campaign was handled by Enlace Communications on a pro bono basis in association with the Los Angeles-based immigration reform organization CHIRLA. Kudos to account manager Adriana Madrigal, who collaborated with creative Camilo Bernal and art director Oscar Ortega to donate their time and talents to this important effort. After all, like many teams who specialize in U.S. Hispanic marketing, we are immigrants and the children of immigrants.
While we can appreciate concerns about our broken immigration system, we cannot stand silently by as politics and social pressures dehumanize the immigrant experience. It is time to put a stop to the kind of anti-immigrant rhetoric that leads to hate crimes, perpetuates stereotypes, and distracts from the root causes of real problems. It's rewarding to contribute to advertising where the ROI can be measured by a "reduction of ignorance."