How Brands are Encouraging People to Vote

September 17, 2020

How are brands using voter turnout initiatives to connect to consumers and support employees?

Now that election season is imminently upon us, as the 2020 election is only a few months away, brands are starting to strategize ways to promote voter turnout initiatives — and raise awareness on the positive power of voting, personal accountability, and taking part in community. Brands can connect and engage consumers on a cultural and influential level, and what better time than now?

According to Harvard Business Review, companies who encourage employees and consumers to vote can contribute to significantly increasing turnout, as found by the 2018 midterm elections and efforts by companies such as Spotify, Target, and Twitter. What people see as "the norm" hugely influences choices and actions, illustrating that work culture, as is a large part of someone's day, contributes to this.

For instance, The Global Strategy Group's July 2018 study found that 76 percent of people were more likely to work for a company that promoted democracy, while Adweek reported that 88 percent of consumers, both Democrats and Republicans, felt Patagonia's decision to give employees a paid day off to vote on election day was appropriate — and sets a precedence for everyone to participate.

Meeting people where they are is the most emotionally resonant way to connect with people, and not only encourage them to vote informatively, but show them all voices matter. Ashley Spillane, the founder of Impactual LLC, a social impact firm that works with philanthropists and nonprofits, who has formerly worked with companies such as Rock the Vote, echoed this sentiment, stating:

"In order to get more people interested in voting and to make sure they have the information they need to show up, we have to meet them where they already are — and brands are where they're at... I remind companies all the time that they know their employees and consumers best: how to talk to them, how to motivate them, how to deliver important information to them. They should solicit best practices and advice from nonprofit organizations then translate that into what works with their audience."

Spillane went on to cite successful case studies, stating, "Snapchat used their unique platform to remind young voters to register to vote in-app, built tools to help their users find their polling location ahead of election day and also created geofilters for users to share snaps of themselves having voted. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, provided employees with information about key civic dates throughout 2018, including party caucuses, primary elections, bipartisan candidate forums, and Election Day, and set up a selfie station in the office to encourage people to share "I Voted" photos with their co-workers."

Below are case studies, brand examples, studies, and articles on how to encourage people, whether consumers or employees, to vote.

Brands and Consumer Voter Participation Campaigns

  • How Brands and Agencies are Trying to Increase Voter Turnout This Year. Adweek, September 14, 2020.
    Brands and agencies are turning their focus to increasing voter turnout for this election cycle by reminding people to register and providing them with information on how to do so. Brands are most effective when their messaging is nonpartisan and reminds individuals to vote or puts social pressure on them to vote.

  • How Companies Can Brand the Vote and Why They Should. WARC News and Opinion, August 7, 2020.
    Traditionally, brands that have become involved in voting rights have focused on donations as opposed to direct action relevant to the respective brand. However, in recent years brands have stepped up to provide tangible solutions to overcome voter suppression. This corporate activism also helps brands attract and retain consumers and talent. The Global Strategy Group's July 2018 study found that 76 percent of people were more likely to work for a company that promoted democracy; 81 percent were more likely to buy that company's products or services; and more than 80 percent were more likely to recommend the company to their friends and family.

  • How Brands are Helping to Get Out the Vote. Ad Age, November 8, 2019.
    The Ad Council in its research with Democracy Works found that the most inspiring, believable, and relatable voter participation message was "I vote because there are important issues that deserve my attention and action."

  • As the 2020 Election Looms, Consumers Look for Brands that Have Political Values. Adweek October 17, 2019.
    Brands that recognize the growing significance of political and social activism and promote their values internally and externally have generally seen a positive response from like-minded consumers. For example, 88 percent of consumers, both Democrats and Republicans, felt Patagonia's decision to give employees a paid day off to vote on election day was appropriate. Further, roughly 86 percent of consumers said it informed their favorable opinion of the brand.

  • 10 Ways Brands Can Help with Voter Registration, Starting Now. Adweek, October 2, 2019.
    Developing original content or integrate an existing message into content, serving up online voter registration opportunities, and donating media inventory are among some of the suggestions offered for ways companies can drive consumers to vote.

  • How Brands Are Getting Voters to the Polls (and Mailboxes) in 2020. Ad Age, September 17, 2020.
    Patagonia, ViacomCBS, Live Nation, Spotify, Reddit, Snapchat, Gap and more are getting creative in an effort to boost voter turnout among those between the ages of 18 and 29. Some of the creative approaches include Live Nation transforming concert venues into polling stations and Reddit launching ongoing digital and out-of-home campaign called UP the Vote to get Redditors to place their votes at polls or by mail. Below is Under Armour's first-ever voting initiative, a microsite created in partnership with

How Brands are Helping Employees Vote

  • For Racial Justice, Employees Need Paid Hours Off for Voting. The New York Times, June 12, 2020.
    Companies have made powerful statements against police brutality and racial inequality, but these statements are often vague —and come without any real directive. One simple addition would greatly affect this: Adding an initiative to encourage voting. This not only encourages consumers aligning with a brand's values to vote, but also motivates employees – especially when offered time off to vote.

  • Companies Make Push to Give Workers Time to Vote. Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2020.

    Recognizing that democracy only works if people participate, hundreds of U.S. companies are launching initiatives to encourage employee participation in this year's presidential election as part of a business-led push to lift the nation's traditionally low voter turnout. Efforts range from granting paid time off on election day to months-long get-out-the-vote campaigns — as well as helping employees navigate a patchwork of voter-registration deadlines. Some companies, like Patagonia, might also close stores on election day.

  • 10 Ways to Help Employees Vote. Society of Human Resources Managers (SHRM), August 2020.
    Citing a persistently large share of U.S. citizens who don't register or who fail to vote even after registering, advocacy groups like Time to Vote and say employers can and should play a role in nonpartisan voter education and mobilization.

    Lists of companies participating in Time to Vote and employee voting programs include ANA members such as:
    • Airbnb
    • Alliance Data Systems
    • Bank of America
    • JPMorgan Chase
    • Nike
    • SAP Global
    • Target
    • Unilever
    • USAA
    • Visa
    • Zillow Group
  • Why and How Companies Invest in Get-Out-the-Vote Efforts. Harvard Business Review, August 6, 2019.
    In 2018, voter turnout in the U.S. midterm elections was the highest of any midterm election in the last century. Of the many factors contributing to this achievement, hundreds of companies were encouraging their employees and/or consumers to vote. Beyond driving voter participation, all of the companies interviewed believe civic engagement programs benefitted brands in a number of ways, including raising brand awareness, strengthening relationships with employees and shareholders, and even elevating the company with elected officials. These initiatives elicited positive feedback on social media, in stores, and through employee communication channels.

  • Civic Responsibility: The Power of Companies to Increase Voter Turnout. Harvard Kennedy School of Government. 2019.
    Case studies show how Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Endeavor, Gap Inc., Patagonia, Snap, Inc., Spotify, Target, and Twitter encouraged employee voter participation for the 2018 midterm elections.

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"How Brands are Encouraging People to Vote." ANA, September 2020.