White Obama urges Americans to forget race issue

NEW YORK - Barack Obama and John McCain have switched colour in a poster campaign created by Grey New York in an effort to encourage voters to put the issue of race to one side.

The poster depicting the two senators in altered states were created by the agency's chief creative officer Tor Myhren and carry the slogan "Let the issues be the issue".

The ads have gone up around Manhattan as Americans today vote to elect their next president with Obama seven points clear in the polls.

Myhren said: "This is a non-partisan image. We wanted to address the race issue straight on. And it cuts both ways. If you're hopping on either candidate's bandwagon solely due to the color of their skin, you're voting for the wrong reasons."

Illinois Senator Obama doesn't even need the help in New York, but the poster is addressing a wider audience in an election that has been dominated by issues of colour.

Quite how many New Yorkers will get to see the ads is another question as the posters have quickly become collectors' items and are being removed by members of the public.

The poster borrows from techniques first used by Italian clothes firm Benetton in its long running controversial United Colors of Benetton campaign and famously in its Colors magazine, which featured images of the Queen and Arnold Schwarzenegger as black and director Spike Lee as white.

If Obama wins and takes the White House for the Democrats he will be the first African American president and the first black man to lead a Western power.

The poster also highlights fears that some Democrats have about the so-called Bradley Effect, which was coined after Tom Bradley, the former Mayor of Los Angeles who ran for Governor of California in 1982.

The polls suggested he would easily win, but he lost. The theory explains the discrepancy between how people say they will vote and how they do vote where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other.

The theory goes that some voters tend to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his white opponent.

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