Knowing that the US Presidential Election would be a major cultural moment in 2016 and that voter turnout had decreased to abysmal levels. YouTube wanted to help spark change and empower the voices of YouTubers & celebrities, along with the millennials who follow them.
Through social listening we found a +34% MoM increase in negativity & voter fatigue in months before election, creating white space for a more lighthearted voting message. So rather than feed scripts to celebrities, we focused on building entertaining prompts and creative tools for the YouTube community to create empowering messages themselves.
YouTubers are famous for organizing movements, spreading awareness, commenting, liking, and disliking. Despite this incredible digital activism, they are the least likely demographic to vote. We set out to empower those who already cared about the election (YouTubers and their core fans), and use them as catalysts get others off their phones and out voting in real life. Rather than feed them scripts like a typical GOTV campaign, we started with a broad & creative prompt to get people to register and continued our participatory & lighthearted approach through election day.
Step One: Register
Before you can vote you have to be registered. After testing registration times in every single state, we discovered that it takes an average of 1 minute and 34 seconds to register to vote. So we asked our most popular YouTube creators to make a specific video: "Film yourself doing anything you want for 1 minute and 34 seconds while your viewers register to vote." Over 211 videos were created by some of the most popular Youtubers and celebrities like The Rock, Cher, Conan O'Brien, West Wing Cast, Chainsmokers, Bill Maher, Sela Ward & Ryan Seacrest.
We created a mega-playlist with all 211+ 1:34 videos made by influencers and fans alike and celebrated National Voter Registration Day with a special compilation video featuring the most creative ones. All 1:34 videos uploaded earned 7M total views.
Step Two: Pledge
To create even more FOMO, we had 43 of the most popular YouTube creators take #voteIRL selfies in the week leading up to election day. By drawing IRL on their fingers, they pledged to vote and kicked off a movement among their fans. Nearly 4000 fans posted their own #voteIRL selfies, urging their friends to drop their devices and vote in real life.
Step Three: Vote
With days until the election, we set our sights on transforming get-out-the-vote for the YouTube generation. We knew that other organizations, brands and celebrities would pull out all the stops on Election Day to encourage voting. In fact, almost every day in November, a new star-studded, celebrity PSA pleaded for viewers to vote. Because the election has been such an emotional whirlwind, and to avoid negative fatigue, we rewarded our viewers with an unexpected GOTV PSA
Dogglegangers Video - We knew that a majority of YouTubers would be voting on Election Day, but we asked ourselves, "who would make videos while they were out voting?" On Election Day we released a special #voteIRL video, starring... dogs. We created canine "dogglegangers" dressed as some of our biggest creators and celebrities, from Tyler Barkley to Dwayne "The Dog" Johnson, to keep the videos rolling while YouTubers were voting. The message was clear – creators are out voting so we got doggy stand-ins. So do like the YouTubers, and #voteIRL today.
Obama PSA - As a final push to get everyone to the polls, we recorded a special video with President Obama, calling upon the YouTube community to get out there and vote in real life.
Through all components of our campaign, we successfully reached our audience and drove high participation from both influencers and their fans.
1:34 Creator & Celebrity Videos - this was one of YouTube's most successful direct-to-creator video prompts ever, with over 211 top YouTubers and celebrities participating (Cher, Ryan Seacrest, The Rock, Conan, Chainsmokers). We successfully activated all creators with our open prompt, instead of a typical scripted PSA. The #voteIRL videos on YouTube received over 7M combined views.
#voteIRL Selfie - Our simple visual pledge worked, with over 43 top YouTubers and 4000+ fans posting their peace sign selfies with IRL written on their finger to Instagram.
#voteIRL Dogglegangers - our lighthearted PSA with dogs on voting day combat election fatigue received 1.78M views.
Obama #voteIRL PSA - POTUS himself recorded a video released on election day, which received over 2.83M views.