To Reach Millennials, These Get-Out-the-Vote Ads Go Where They Go

These aren’t your grandpa’s campaign ads.

Two divergent groups — Rock the Vote! and the College Republicans — have set their sights on next month’s midterm elections with new ads designed to push the 18- to 29-year-old demographic to the ballot box.

Rock the Vote!, a nonprofit aimed at boosting voter turnout among young Americans, launched a new campaign this week called #CareLikeCrazy. The ads aim to convince young viewers that, from the left-leaning group’s point of view anyway, voters who typically hit the polls for midterm elections might not have millennials’ best interests at heart.

The organization shelled out $250,000 for the ad buy, and the commercials rolled out Thursday in six college towns in three states: Gainesville, Fla., Tallahassee, Fla., Greenville, N.C., Chapel Hill, N.C., Madison, Wis., East Lansing, Mich., and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Similarly, the College Republican National Committee turned its attention to 16 states for a $1 million digital ad campaign with a bridal theme married to pop culture.

“It’s meant to be a conversation starter,” a CRNC official told The Daily Signal  of the “Say Yes” campaign.

On Monday, the #CareLikeCrazy ads from Rock the Vote! also will be seen in Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio, and State College, Pa.

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The ads also can be found on popular social media and digital sites such as Hulu, YouTube, Facebook, Pandora and Spotify.

Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have competitive gubernatorial races, while races for U.S. Senate in Michigan and North Carolina are relatively close.

Rock the Vote! puts a sarcastic spin on traditional campaign ads and focuses on five issues: voting rights, the environment, student loans, war and women’s rights.

The campaign also encourages millennials to take a “selfie” photo or shoot a video and “tell us — What do you #CareLikeCrazy about?”

Rock the Vote! bills itself as nonpartisan but is part of the progressive network called the Democracy Alliance. Backed by billionaire George Soros, the Democracy Alliance funnels money to more than 180 organizations through “dark money” practices.

The group did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

The first of five ads to be released by the College Republican National Committee are based on the TLC show “Say Yes to the Dress,” and feature a young bride modeling a wedding dress named after a Republican and a dress named after a Democrat.

While wearing the new gowns, the women rattle off a series of benefits that young people can expect should they choose the Republican candidate. If they pick a Democrat, though, they can expect to be saddled with increased tuition, taxes and debt.

Alex Smith, national chairwoman of the CRNC, told The Daily Signal:

The message we wanted to communicate is that [Democrats] are a bad bargain with unforeseen costs and that young people are going to make an important decision about their future. It’s meant to be a conversation starter.

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The first six GOP ads support gubernatorial candidates across six states: Rick Scott of Florida, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Bob Beauprez of Colorado, Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Rick Snyder of Michigan and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania.

The CRNC’s “Say Yes” ads were tested before four focus groups nationwide and received an overwhelmingly positive responses from millennials, the group says.

Another series of ads to be released in Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin will feature a student texting various questions to a Democratic politician. The response is “K,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“This midterm election, the youth vote can be powerful,” said Smith, who is CRNC’s first female chief.

We know young people are looking for an alternative. They’re not inherently liberal. They agree with us. They’re just not connecting those ideas with the party.

Millennials today, she said, are not paying attention to conventional radio and television ads, and don’t connect with direct mail pieces.

Instead, young people turn to digital spaces such as Pandora, YouTube, Spotify and Hulu — where both Rock the Vote! and the CRNC focus their outreach.

Voter turnout among millennials is typically low during midterm elections. In 2010, 18- to 29-year-olds made up 11 percent of those who went to the polls. By comparison, millennials made up 18 percent of the electorate in 2008.

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