The U.S. midterm elections are November 6th, and the days when the political zeitgeist was limited to only Washington circles are long gone. Consumers around the country are buzzing with political chatter, and marketers have latched onto that excitement.
The marketplace is at a point where companies must be thoughtful and authentic about engaging in social issues. As more employees speak up about holding their employers accountable, consumers today are also using their voice to support brands they believe align with their personal values, whether that’s LGTBQ rights, women’s equality or local issues that resonate in their community.
This election cycle, Team DMS takes a look at voter registration drives that are partnering with corporations – and vice versa – for maximum brand and civic impact.
Still Rocking the Vote
Getting young people, adults and grandmas (although they already vote in record numbers) registered to vote and to the polls is often a shared goal of celebrities, rock stars and corporations alike when elections roll around. Some recent efforts that rocked voter registration include:
- Time to Vote is a non-partisan effort led by CEOs from nearly 150 companies, to increase voter registration, make voting easier for their employees and, in some cases, align their company values with their “get out the vote” messaging.
- Voto Latino recently launched a three-year, multi-million dollar effort with Telemundo and Univision to increase voter registration among Hispanics.
- When We All Vote is a non-partisan voter registration drive working with BET to increase voter rolls, particularly among people of color.
- Approximately 40% of the eligible population votes during the midterms, down 20% from presidential elections. Though the numbers are discouraging, Taylor Swift’s recent and uncharacteristic political post on Instagram may have led to a surge of nearly 65,000 new voter registrations, particularly in her key demographic (18-to-24-year olds). This could illustrate a growing excitement about this coming election, and/or civic engagement. Always a big seller with the kids!
Corporations Engage Their Brands to Get Out the Vote
Patagonia’s Vote Our Planet campaign taps into their company mission of earth-friendly and earth focused cause marketing. Clean air and clean water locally and globally is the target issue they’ve chosen to encourage voter registration and participation on election day. Patagonia and many other companies will be closed on November 6th, giving their employees a chance to hit the polls.
“This is about recognizing that a vibrant democracy relies on engaged citizens voting, and that business can play a vital role by removing barriers,” says Patagonia’s chief executive, Rose Marcario.
Efforts from other corporate players include:
- Lyft: “If you look at voter participation, something’s not right. We actually feel like we can do something about it” says John Zimmer, co-founder and president of Lyft. Lyft will be offering free and discounted rides to polling places on November 6th. According to Lyft, it’s estimated that 15 million people didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues. They will also be partnering with various voter initiatives to encourage registration and help with understanding ballot initiatives.
- Walmart: The superstore’s Walmart Community Votes web page has registration options, deadlines and an efficient data tool for researching local elections and candidates. It’s user friendly and provides a wealth of information.
- Levi’s: CEO Chip Bergh was just named “The Visionary” by the National Retail Federation. Bergh’s vision led to both a reversal of Levi’s declining fortunes and an alignment of the company’s values with their larger civic responsibility as business leaders. Levi’s “Use Your Vote” commercial perfectly combines that sense of responsibility with the company’s iconic back-pocket label and the dulcet tones of the late, great Aretha Franklin. A big time win for voting and cause marketing.
Using Your Brand for Good
Companies know it looks good to do good, and a non-partisan, collectively beneficial issue like voting can be consumer friendly if done well. Aligning effectively with a social issue alerts customers to a company’s values, potentially building business, increasing a brand’s profile and online traffic and giving back to a worthy endeavor.