In that respect, the use of familiar Manhattan-based faces made sense in New York state, she said. The ads played up the vibrancy of New York City and appeared largely geared toward the constituents of several downstate lawmakers whose votes were in play.
The dynamic in Maryland is different, which is one reason organizers of the new Web campaign will have a different feel, with fewer celebrities and more everyday people.
Several lawmakers who balked at supporting the bill last session said they were concerned it did not contain sufficient accommodations for religious groups opposed to same-sex marriage. Opposition was particularly strong among black church leaders in Prince George’s County.
Accordingly, the Maryland ad campaign is expected to feature several clergy members and African American leaders from various walks of life, organizers say.
Whether it changes any votes remains to be seen.
“It certainly could be effective, but they also run the risk of motivating the opposition,” said Todd Eberly, a professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, who has closely followed the debate in Annapolis. “What they have to be prepared for is it may actually cause a backlash.”
The first challenge might be getting the right people to pay attention. The audience for Web-based campaigns remains “pretty self-selecting,” Greenky said.
In New York, several of the ads generated enough buzz that they were covered by newspapers and television.
That happened, for example, when Barbara Bush, the daughter of the former president, made it known her position was different than that of her father. And when Sean Avery, a New York Rangers hockey star was featured, that became news in the sports pages.
Although there’s no guarantee such campaigns will succeed, they cater to the way research has shown people think about many public-policy issues, said Jeffrey Niederdeppe, a professor of communication at Cornell University.
“Having high-profile people voice a view can be helpful,” he said. “We’re hard-wired to make use of examples.”