When TRW, a Fortune 500 company, sought to sell a significant portion of its Lyndhurst corporate headquarters’ campus for the development of the lifestyle shopping center Legacy Village, it was met with overwhelming citizen opposition, particularly from the immediate neighborhoods surrounding the development site. Faced with a well-funded opposition group, TRW turned to us to lead the public communications front in support of its rezoning effort.
The first challenge was to defeat a “ward veto” provision proposed for the city charter. The provision would have empowered the ward in which the project was being developed to have a veto over the wishes of the rest of the community. With opinion polling showing the measure passing 75% – 25%, we developed a message that re-defined the issue by asking voters, “Do you think your neighbor should have more of a say in the future of our community than you do?”. When the choice was crafted to show voters their voice would be lost, the issue was overwhelmingly defeated.
Having defeated the charter amendment, the next challenge reared its head, winning support for the rezoning. Initially, over 50% of voters strongly opposed the rezoning. We started the campaign knowing TRW’s reputation had to be rebuilt after having been badly tarnished by the opposition. Several weeks of ads and mailings ensued highlighting TRW’s important work in national defense and auto safety. We were able shift the focus of the campaign to the benefits of the project. The strategy succeeded and the rezoning issue narrowly passed.