This election, all Millennials will finally be eligible to vote. But will they?
The U.S.’s largest living generation, 18-35 year olds, are the target of many a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign precisely because Millennials have been “punching below their electoral weight” in recent elections, according to Pew Research Center. In the 2012 election, only 46 percent of voting Millennials reported voting, compared to a 69 percent turnout of Baby Boomers (the generation born between 1946 and 1964).
By teaming up with brands, celebrities, and other influencers, a number of GOTV campaigns have done a remarkable job connecting with their desired demographic, and their success has implications beyond the current election. For marketers and advertisers, Millennial-focused GOTV campaigns offer valuable takeaways for reaching the notoriously hard-to-penetrate demographic. Here’s how five of the best non-partisan campaigns cleverly fused politics and pop culture to transform Millennial vocal power into Millennial voting power.
Doritos No Choice
Rock the Vote, the nonprofit that has been appealing to young voters since 1990, collaborated with Doritos to produce the innovative Doritos No Choice campaign. Doritos vending machines were placed on college campuses, but students who wanted a snack were first prompted to say whether they were registered to vote. Those who answered yes got a choice of Doritos in either red (original flavor) or blue (Cool Ranch) packaging, but those who answered no were automatically given the “No Choice” flavor: a silver bag full of Doritos-shaped cardboard. The machine then allowed students to register on-screen to demonstrate that “the boldest choice is making a choice.”
The tactic was a clever way for Doritos to achieve both brand relevance and non-partisan participation in the building political frenzy. As for Rock the Vote, nothing appeals to young people—or any people, for that matter—like a free popular snack. This was a lesson in both well thought-out collaborations and cause marketing.
Anonymous Content, the production company behind the Oscar-winning films “Birdman,” “Spotlight,” and “The Revenant” created a series of #VoteYourFuture videos in which prominent celebrities explained their motivation for voting. The videos, which featured Millennial celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Sarah Hyland, racked up millions of views on Instagram, a perfect example of how well hashtag activism can work when done properly. Of the 2,000-plus posts that used the hashtag, many were from early voters passing the message on to their own Instagram followers. The hashtag offered a simple and clear call to action that was easy for thousands of people to share on a platform they care about, and the celebrities made it cool to do so.
— Sleater-Kinney (@Sleater_Kinney) October 31, 2016
Launched by HeadCount, a nonpartisan organization that works with musicians to promote voter participation, the #GoVote campaign has registered more than 150,000 new voters at live music events. The campaign tapped big names in the music industry, including Jack Johnson, Panic! at the Disco, and Questlove, and other celebrities to encourage fans to vote. The combination of quirky social media posts by celebrity influencers and on-site voter registration was the perfect combination of virtual and real-life outreach for the Millennial generation, and the campaign’s reach across entertainment genres and geography was a savvy way to acknowledge and appeal to the diversity of these young voters. When it comes to young audiences, one size does not always fit all.
In the #VoteIRL campaign, YouTube used influencer marketing to engage the site’s plethora of young users. A group of content creators spoke to YouTubers to stress the importance of casting a vote in real life (IRL), rather than merely watching the more than 110 million hours of election-related videos available online or speaking up on social media. Each video is 1 minute, 34 seconds, the amount of time YouTube determined it takes to register to vote. By roping in successful influencers with impressive followings, #VoteIRL tapped into ready-made audiences and managed to attract more than 1 million views and almost 10,000 comments on the first video alone. This influencer-based campaign serves as an example of how social media marketers can parlay online reach into real-life action.
Even the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) encouraged people to get to the polls this year. In a series of short and silly videos, fashion insiders, designers, and models appealed to would-be voters to make sure they cast a ballot on November 8. Diane von Furstenberg, Hailey Baldwin, Tommy Hilfiger, and a slew of other bold-faced names appeared in the videos. While many get-out-the-vote campaigns aim to reach as broad an audience as possible, this campaign was a lesson in niche marketing done right, and one that garnered thousands of views per video despite the specificity of the target audience.
And so we encourage every American, regardless of age or special interest, to exercise their right to vote. On November 8th, make “the boldest choice” by showing up at the polls and making your voice heard.