LAPD asks Lady Gaga, Ashton Kutcher for Twitter help with 405 closure
In an effort to alert motorists to the traffic nightmare that might arrive when the 405 Freeway is closed next month, officials have pulled out all the stops: Press conferences, advertising, email blasts and warning messages on seemingly every electronic freeway message sign in the region.
But this being Hollywood, officials are also turning to celebrities.
The Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday said it has requested that celebrities with large Twitter followings –- including actors, musicians and professional athletes -– send out messages helping authorities get the word out. Officials want the celebrities not just to urge their followers about avoiding the 10-mile stretch of the roadway that will be closed on the weekend of July 15 but to encourage them to stay close to home.
The LAPD said it is making contact with representatives for Lady Gaga (nearly 11.3 million followers), Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (7 million and 3.7 million respectively) and Kim Kardashian ( 8 million followers). None of the celebrities have sent out warning tweets yet, but officials hope they will do so closer to the closure dates.
“The whole idea is just to re-message the theme of avoiding the 405 area and that it’s going to be a mess if people don’t stay away,” said Lt. Andy Neiman, an LAPD spokesman. “The other message is to take advantage of this weekend to shop, meet some neighbors you never met before, finish that home improvement project you never got around to finishing or have a block party.”
The LAPD is hoping star power will help illuminate the issue, especially for those who don’t get their news through traditional means like television, radio or the newspaper, Neiman said.
“Twitter is a way to reach that whole demographic that could be oblivious to the 405 closure for that weekend,” Neiman said.
Neiman said the LAPD hopes that if the celebrities don’t mention the closure directly, they can at least make a passing reference to themes they want to hit home -- in other words “plan ahead, avoid the area or stay home.”
The celebrity Twitter campaign is one part of a larger war by officials to alert the public to the 405 closure. They’ve embarked on an ad barrage on TV, radio and in newspapers that will only intensify in the coming weeks. Politicians and government agencies are being urged to Tweet and email bulletins. Officials have also asked Google Maps, Mapquest and others to include closure information.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Ari B. Bloomekatz
Photo: Lady Gaga. Credit: Getty Images