Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities: Move Our Money campaign

Kevin Teague


In 1997 Ben Cohen, cofounder of the superpremium ice cream company Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., was shocked to learn that Congress had decreased spending on social programs but had increased the Pentagon's defense budget. The following year Cohen founded Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities (BLSP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to transferring 15 percent of the $281 billion defense budget into educational funding. By 1999 he had mobilized more than 500 BLSP members, which included corporate executives, retired generals and admirals, and celebrities. Hoping to make education funding the key issue of the 2000 presidential elections and compel the next U.S. president to transfer money away from defense and into education, BLSP released its "Move Our Money" campaign.

The ad agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc. worked pro bono to create one television spot, one radio spot, and four print ads for the campaign. The radio and television spots featured Jack Shanahan, a retired vice admiral of the U.S. Navy, who explained that even though America had enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over, the U.S. government was still building more. Shanahan explained that the government could allocate a small fraction of its defense budget to help improve America's education system without compromising the country's defense. Print ads created by Hill, Holliday's creative directors Dave Gardiner and Joe Berkeley featured provocative copy, such as "No wonder our bombs are smarter than our students." The campaign ran from December 1999 to January 2000 to target the New Hampshire and Iowa primary elections. It resurfaced in September 2000 to target the general electorate before the presidential election.