Traeger Grills is smoking voters out of their houses to get Individuals to vote
For many years, the conventional marketing wisdom has been that brands should stay away from political issues. The reasoning was simple enough: what company could afford to alienate a single customer by commenting on something controversial?
With the socially conscious millennial generation taking its place as a $ 1.4 trillion spending block, that thinking has changed significantly. 2018 data from Sprout Social found that a whopping 70% of consumers aren't just okay with brands taking political positions. They think it's “important” to do this – and that percentage increased from 64% in 2017.
With a few notable exceptions such as Patagonia, which puts "Vote the Assholes Out" on the bottom of its clothing labels (a reference to public officials who deny climate change is real), the highly controversial nature of this election season makes political stance more risky than it is was historical. And that could be why so many brands are advocating the last remaining political issue that feels safe: encouraging Americans to get out and vote.
At the beginning of this week, Traeger, manufacturer of high-end outdoor grills, started a so-called "bipartisan election campaign". Without naming candidates, the company has set up an election page with a button on its website that takes visitors to Vote.org, a platform for voter registration operated by a non-partisan 501 (c) (3) of the same name.
"We felt a need to remind consumers that regardless of the intense division among the partisans and whichever side you are on, we still share common interests," CMO Todd Smith told Adweek.
Interests like what? Well, the importance of citizen participation, but also the terrace. While Traeger's initiative is reportedly to end the voting, she also uses humor to get a bit of self-promotion. The election page has a variety of congressional style banners that visitors can download and use as bumper stickers and advertising signs. LA Creative Shop Zambezi slogans include: "Left Wing, Right Wing … Mmmm, Wing" and a poster with a Ribs and Brisket presidential ticket in place of the actual candidates.
Traeger is hardly the first brand to try to smoke voters out of their homes and get them to vote this election season. HBO, Nike, Uber, Facebook, and Absolut are among the well-known brands that began mobilizing last month (September 22nd was National Voter Registration Day) to increase voter turnout.
Facebook and Instagram started that day with a voter registration feature that is at the top of their feeds. "We are putting the full strength of our platform behind this campaign to give every eligible voter the opportunity to be heard in these elections," said a statement by Facebook.
HBO has partnered with the nonprofit Rock the Vote (which was founded in 1990 in partnership with MTV to get young people to vote) and produced a video with personalities like Robin Thede, Spike Lee, and Natasha Rothwell wearing masks that Central themes such as BLM and criminal justice are labeled reform and LGBTQ rights. The unspoken message is that life and death issues depend on this year's election results.
Under Armor is encouraging entrants to jog 11.3 miles through Election Day "to show you are ready to #RunToVote this November". Nike's voter page warns visitors that they no longer have to sit on the sidelines and has buttons to check their registration status, register to vote, and request a postal vote.
While all of these brands have an important civic cause behind them, there are unspoken benefits to them too. According to Patriarch Group CEO and frequent CNN contributor Eric Schiffer, increasing voting efforts are giving brands the halo effect of taking a political stance without the usual risk of being behind a hot button problem.