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The best campaigns encouraging US voters to head to the polls

Nike's 'You Can't Stop Our Voice' election campaign

With polling day right around the corner, The Drum takes a look at the best get-out-the-vote campaigns created by brands this election year.

In an election year bolstered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the subsequent economic recession, and the ongoing fight against racial injustice – brands are taking it upon themselves to use their influence to get the US voting on 3 November.

Past election statistics have shown that many Americans don‘t make use of their vote, particularly the younger generations. In the 2016 presidential elections, less than half of 18-29 year olds didn’t vote.

Joining forces from across the sectors, brands in the technology, retail and entertainment realms are hoping to encourage eligible voters to make their voices heard in the upcoming US midterm elections.

Strategies vary from brands creating everything from voting merchandise, to campaigns encouraging the general public to go out and vote. Some brands are also paying their own employees to work at the polls, while others are giving them time off to go and cast their vote.

Featured below are some of the highlights from the campaigns encouraging voters to use their voice in the upcoming election.

Nike: ‘You Can't Stop Our Voice’

Nike’s campaign emphasises that sport gives you a platform to express yourself.

Featuring athletes like LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Odell Beckham Jr, Sue Bird, Ja Morant, A’Ja Wilson, and Tim Anderson, who are leading by example, the campaign asserts that you don’t have to be a star to have a voice.

In alignment with Nike’s efforts to increase voter participation and minimize barriers to voting, the company has also partnered with transportation networking company Lyft to support early voting and access to discounted rides in communities who have historically had a harder time getting to the polls, as well as supporting voters in Nike World Headquarters’ backyard.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Johnnie Walker: ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’

Through trials and triumphs, Johnnie Walker has been there to mark these moments with the possibility of hope and the shared optimism of brighter days.

The latest election ad from the brand features Brittany Howard, best known as lead singer for rock band Alabama Shakes, performing a remake of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the 1945 musical, Carousel.

The spot is by Anomaly New York, which was also behind Johnnie Walker’s 2016 election spot, which included both an English and Spanish voiceover of Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Babe Wine: ‘Election Night Survival Kit’

Babe Wine released an ‘Election Night Survival Kit‘ to make the wait a little more comfortable ahead of the US presidential elections.

As part of the kit, Babe curated a box of items for you to use while you watch the results unfold including a ball to squeeze so you don’t go off on Twitter, tissues in case you decide to shed a tear for dramatic effect, a pillow to give your TV a break from being yelled at, a bottle of Babe’s ‘Polls Closing. Bottles Opening‘ red wine to celebrate casting your ballot and a four-pack of Babe Rosé for your election night watch part.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

The Economist: ‘Word Play’

​The​ ​Economist launched a new digital marketing initiative, ’Word Play’ designed to drive audiences to the high-quality journalism they can expect from​ The Economist’s​ coverage of the US 2020 elections.

A departure from The Economist​ traditional ’white out of red’ creative, this campaign instead leverages the secondary colour palette with striking blues. Each creative makes use of kangaroo words found within ​The Economist​ name to boldly alert audiences to what they can expect (evidence-based, refreshingly fair) and cannot expect (no hype, no clickbait) from The Economist​.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

RepresentUs: ‘Naked Ballot’

Some of the world’s biggest celebrities appeared naked in an ad to bring attention to laws that require voters in 16 states, including the important swing state of Pennsylvania, to insert their mail-in ballot into two separate envelopes in order to be counted.

If the ballot is not inserted properly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the ballot is considered ‘naked,‘ and rejected. This ‘naked ballot rule‘ risks the rejection of hundreds of thousands of mail-in votes, which could significantly impact US election results.

The ad’s goal is to clarify the necessary steps voters who are mailing in their ballots must take to make sure they are accepted by their state’s board of election and counted.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Wake Up & Vote: ‘Make History Here’

With in-person voting options reduced by Covid-19, a non-partisan campaign informs public that nearly 70 stadiums and arenas across the country have opened their doors for safe, socially-distanced voting

This year, thanks to legendary basketball coach Doc Rivers, LeBron James, and organizations around the country, nearly 70 stadiums and arenas are opening their doors to voters as huge, safe, in-person polling sites.

Election Super Centers Project’s partnered with Julie Hermelin and Mary Ann Marino, founders of the Wake Up and Vote: Creative Consortium, a non-profit organization that mobilizes creators across advertising, entertainment, gaming, and design to create and produce social impact and civic engagement content and campaigns. In a tight window, Hermelin and Marino (also partners at Gutsy Media) assembled a powerful creative team including Serge Patzak of 1stAveMachine, Cedric Gairard of Oatly, and Jordan Stone of Snapchat to execute the 360 national marketing strategy, Make History Here.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

AHA: ‘The Ballot Bunch’

Our democracy is stronger when everyone participates, but this year, that’s going to be tougher than usual.

As the entire country tries to figure out what Election Day will look like during the pandemic, new rules for absentee voting and conflicting headlines about the trustworthiness of mail-in voting are adding to the confusion.

The Ballot Bunch is here to make voting in the 2020 election a little easier.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Patagonia: ‘Vote the Assholes Out’

Known for its strong stance on environmentalism, outdoor brand Patagonia has included a special message on the labels of its recent range of shorts.

‘Vote the Assholes Out‘ was confirmed by Patagonia spokesperson on Twitter as a legitimate campaign in line with the brand’s historic political and environmental activism.

Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, has been talking about voting the assholes out for several years and by “assholes,” he means “politicians from any party who deny or disregard the climate crisis and ignore science.”

“Remember, vote the assholes out — all of those politicians who don’t believe we should do anything about climate change,” wrote Chouinard in a blog post for the 1% for the Planet community at the start of the pandemic. “Vote for the planet and against those who would do nothing. We have the power and now is the time to use it.”

Three years ago, Patagonia also sued the Trump administration for its decision to shrink the size, by roughly two million acres, of two national monuments in Utah.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

Absolut: ‘#VoteResponsibly’

In other brand news, Pernod Ricard USA have announced that all employees will receive paid time off on Tuesday 3 November to vote in the upcoming election.

In an effort to ensure all voices from America’s spirits industry are heard at the polls, chair and chief executive officer of Pernod Ricard North America, Ann Mukherjee, will also call upon industry leaders and peers to do the same for their employees.

In addition to time off, Pernod Ricard’s flagship premium vodka brand, Absolut, is launching a non-partisan, integrated ’Drink Responsibly. #VoteResponsibly’ campaign which delivers the message: ’Vote First, Drink Second.’

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

Under Armour: ‘Run to Vote’

Another brand that is encouraging its employees as well as its customers to participate in the vote, is exercise brand Under Armour.

‘Run To Vote,‘ a first-ever program for the company with the goal of increasing voter turnout and removing barriers that can keep people from making an impact in democracy.

At the helm of this first-time initiative is Under Armour president and chef executive Patrik Frisk. This election marks the first time he has voted in the US since becoming a citizen – his experience navigating the political system here prompted him to leverage the company he leads and what it stands for to make voting easier for everyone.

Overall Rating
4/5 Vote

‘Vote Like A Madre’

Hoping to represent the Latinx voting demographic, Latina mothers are taking over social media pinky promising their kids they’ll ’#votelikeamadre’ on 3 November to fight climate change.

In a campaign spearheaded by some of the most recognizable Latina moms from across music, television, film, and business, including Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Salma Hayek, Zoe Saldana, Jessica Alba, Jordana Brewster, Joy Huerta, and Desi Perkins, ’#VoteLikeAMadre’ urges moms to fight for their kid’s future by electing leaders with aggressive plans to fight climate change.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

HBO: ‘Rock the Vote’

Further celebrity endorsement comes from HBO Max and Rock the Vote, which are kicking off a new partnership that encourages voters to highlight the issues that have most affected their daily lives, families and communities.

The PSA features artists and actors including Spike Lee, Natasha Rothwell, Robin Thede, Samantha Bee and more representing issues like equality, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive justice, and climate change.

Overall Rating
1/5 Vote

Ad Council: ‘Vote For Your Life’

ViacomCBS, in partnership with the Ad Council, launched ’Vote For Your Life’, a mass voter registration, early voting, and get-out-the-vote campaign crafted to respond to the specific challenges of the upcoming 2020 election season.

Voter registration is down by as much as 70% in some states, largely affecting millennials and Gen Z voters aged 18-30. Adding to this registration crisis, the pandemic is making it even more critical for all voters to learn about and take advantage of their options to vote early or absentee.

Overall Rating
2/5 Vote

Reddit: ‘Up the Vote’

This campaign marks Reddit’s first-ever brand marketing campaign and falls under its wider voter engagement initiative, ‘Up The Vote.‘ The creative draws parallels between engagement with content on Reddit and participation in real-life elections.

A bedrock of the platform experience, Reddit users cast more than 165 million votes on the site every day to help determine the content most celebrated and what falls to the bottom of the feed.

The new campaign urges Reddit’s 130,000+ active communities and the population at large to bring this same passion to voting in real life, and unite around a shared effort to shape our futures.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

RepresentUS: ‘Dictators’

Marking the first time deepfake technology has been used for a major US TV broadcast in the political space, anti-corruption not-for-profit RepresentUs and Mischief @ No Fixed Address have issued a sinister warning to America to stress the urgency of protecting its nation’s democracy ahead of November's US presidential elections.

As part of the ‘Dictators‘ campaign, RepresentUs is releasing a series of deepfake ads featuring North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un and Russia President Vladimir Putin who deliver a harrowing reminder of how easily the republic can collapse.

A social media campaign will be supported by influencers including Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Helms, Alyssa Milano and Kathy Griffin.

Overall Rating
5/5 Vote

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