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Declare Yourself is a campaign initiated during the 2004 United States presidential elections to encourage young people to register to vote. It began as the "Declaration of Independence Road Trip", a 50-city cross-country tour of a rare Dunlap broadside of the Declaration of Independence lasting three-and-a-half years.


The DOI Road Trip's stated mission was to engage and energize all Americans, particularly young people, by bringing the Declaration to them. According to a press release, "This non-profit nonpartisan project hopes to inspire Americans to participate in civic activism, to exercise their rights and to vote. The Declaration of Independence Road Trip will travel to cities and towns across the United Statesmarker, creatively combining elements of education, entertainment, and community outreach."

Founded by TV producer and philanthropist Norman Lear, and led by Honorary Co-Chairs and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, "Declare Yourself" is described in their literature as a "national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign initiated in 2004 to energize and empower a new movement of young voters to participate in the 2004 presidential election. From January through Election Day 2004, over one million young and first-time voters registered to vote through events at Declare Yourself's spoken word and music tour of college campuses.

Declare Yourself revved up its campaign again in 2007 for the 2008 Presidential Primaries and General Election. This campaign is currently focusing on viral videos on video sharing sites like YouTube, MySpace,, and Daily Motion. The videos feature actors from the popular TV shows Reno 911! and The Office, and the movie Superbad.


In 2006, three PSA's were released, each directed by David LaChapelle. They pretend to be clichéd commercials for different products but all end with the same ending: Silence. After the image, there's an eerie silence as the words "Only You Can Silence Yourself" appear, followed by a voice whispering "Register to vote now."

Dog Food

An innocent-looking dog food ad where woman comments how her dog has not a care in the world and choses the brand 'Apathy' and hopes that she'll be like the dog and be taken care of herself. Suddenly we cut to an image of her on all fours with a muzzle on. Watch Dog Food PSA on YouTube

Phat Ride

A typical ad in the style of 'Pimp My Ride', when it ends as a mechanic has nailed his mouth shut. Watch Phat Ride PSA on YouTube


A commercial which advertises a lipstick called 'Lip-Sealer' with the cliché of a model posing with a voice over. Suddenly, the model's lips have been glued shut as she tries to speak, but is only able to mumble. Distorted voices are also heard. Watch Vanity PSA on YouTube

The Man

In 2007 Declare Yourself shot another series of PSAs starring Ben Garant and Tom Lennon of Comedy Central's "Reno 911!". The series, entitled "The Man," featured Ben and Tom posing as The Man to encourage young people NOT to vote. The sarcastic series has a following on MySpace TV, YouTube, and Break.

Bondage print ad campaign

To encourage voter registration among youth for the 2008 United States presidential election, Declare Yourself hired photographers Mark Liddell and David LaChapelle to shoot a bondage-themed print advertising campaign. The ads include models, including celebrities Christina Aguilera, Jonathan Bennett, La Toya London and André 3000, in various forms of bondage as a symbol of reducing one's voice by failing to register as a voter. The photos include the tag, "Only you can silence yourself." The ads drew national media attention, particularly those of actress Jessica Alba, who wears no visible clothing and is bound with black tape over her mouth and chest. Alba said of the advertisement, "It didn't freak me out at all. What I like about Marc's work is that he tells a story and brings real emotion to his pictures."

Notes and references

  1. "Declare Yourself gallery." Retrieved on 2008-09-16.

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