Promote The Vote

Well, it’s that time again – election season.

That time in our democratic cycle to cast votes for those who will shape and influence a wide range of economic, environmental, international, and societal policies that will profoundly affect each and every one of us on a professional and personal level.

Over the next 11-months, we’ll be subjected to countless debates, caucuses, primaries, and conventions to elect (or re-elect) candidates for local municipal, county, and state positions. However, all eyes from around the world will be focused on the Presidential race.

But for many the process and experience of election season leaves a lot to be desired. Sadly, the very basic civic right so many brave men and women have valiantly fought to preserve for generations has lost its appeal. The public is turned off by typical political speak, broken promises, and gridlock. And, sadly, advertising and sound bites on the news are often the only way most voters base their decisions (if they haven’t already decided along party lines).

And with only 60% of registered voters actually taking the time to vote, it is easy to believe the system is broken and there is no remedy in sight.

So how do we make the voter experience more positive, engaging, and meaningful?

We all know of the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in “hard” and “soft” money Presidential hopefuls spend on television every four years to attack, sling mud, and tear each other apart.

What if these political camps used “Brand Activation” to reach, start a dialogue, build a relationship, and influence potential voters? Isn’t that at the very heart of what we do?

There is much we can emulate for political campaigns are the embodiment of the core principles of Experiential Marketing. Tightly scheduled and highly choreographed runs-of-show each day for what is the ultimate “mobile tour” as candidates hopscotch from state-to-state looking for votes. From the idyllic hamlets of New Hampshire to eating fried food on a stick at state fairs to filling venues in cities big and small they are out there connecting with voters, shaking hands and kissing babies, telling their story, and trying to sell their “brand”.

Campaigns even deploy “street teams”, operatives at the grassroots level to hand out literature, buttons and bumper stickers; put up posters and lawn signs; and encourage voters to turn out for their respective candidates.

However, shouldn’t candidates look to create deeper engagements to solicit our thoughts and feelings about issues important to us. It’s amazing what they would learn if they really listened to us aside from polls and focus groups.

Let’s make the political process fun for everyone. Let’s encourage everyone who is willing and able to vote to indeed exercise that right. If the 2000 Presidential elections taught us anything — aside from the difference between a pregnant chad and a hanging chad — it’s that each individual vote does indeed count (especially in Florida.)

What about a more integrated role for experiential marketing? Here are just a few thoughts…

“Your Voice Counts” Booths. Turn the public into influencers. Invite them to step into testimonial booths at voter intersects (like malls, fairs and festivals, sports venues, and campaign events) to “endorse” and share their thoughts for their candidate. Encourage them to send their testimonials to family and friends through their social media platforms. Perhaps the campaign can select the most compelling messages to use on their website and/or in media.

Pop-Up “Stores”. Take an empty storefront in key battleground markets and turn it into an immersive experience where people can really learn about the candidate’s platform, life narrative, and policy differences. Offer visitors commemorative digital green screen pix “with the candidate”. Interactive kiosks can be placed throughout the space asking questions: part history lesson and part civic lesson. A Twitter wall can capture our thoughts and sentiments. We can aggregate for “editorial” content in local press as to what the people are thinking, feeling, and yearning for.

Compelling Out-Of-Home. Many candidates utilize billboards to stay relevant and top-of-mind. What if we were able to bring them to life by projecting moving images of the candidate on the sides of buildings? To turn a static image into a fluid, dynamic, and memorable way to emotionally connect with voters. Augment with audio consisting of a dramatic mixture of words and music. Support at the street level with teams handing out literature, buttons, bumper stickers, and tee shirts.

Family Movie Day/Night. Family-values, health and wellness, and education are major platforms for both political parties. Candidates can invite families to local theaters on successive Saturday mornings in key markets for free family movies (or conduct Movie Nights in a local park). They can talk directly in a rather compelling and moving way on the big screen to prospective voters through a five-minute “trailer” before the movie starts. The beauty of this idea is it can be activated in theaters all across the state and/or country at the same time.

Mobile Polling Stations. For many, getting to their local precinct to cast their ballot can be problematic. What if the Federal Election Commission were to deploy a fleet of buses to bring the opportunity to vote directly where they live, work, and shop? Wouldn’t this help give a voice to those who feel disenfranchised?

If all else fails, we could always implement a “money-back guarantee” if we as a nation are unsatisfied with our chosen candidate’s performance. On second thought, didn’t California implement a similar tactic — the 2003 recall that brought the Golden State “the Governator”?

Regardless, experiential marketing is a powerful tool that could help influence voters when completely integrated with a campaign’s huge media budgets. After all, isn’t that what we want our brands to do to maximize spending, reach, engagement, and consideration?

Oh, and one other thing — regardless of which way you lean — get involved, let your voice be heard, and don’t forget to vote!

Source: LinkedIn, Bob Petrosino

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