Sex sells, but so does fear: Two voter registration campaigns take different tacks

OkCupid, in a campaign by Mischief @ No Fixed Address, takes a lighter tone to the Ad Council and Viacom/CBS’s more urgent approach.

Is voting sexy? Or is going to the polls this November a life-or-death situation? Two voter-registration campaigns, unveiled on Thursday, take opposing approaches to encourage people to get out and vote in the November.

In a campaign by Mischief @ No Fixed Address, dating app OkCupid argues voter registration makes you hotter. But in partnership with ViacomCBS, The Ad Council takes the more serious stance that people should vote as if their lives depend on it.    

The OKCupid “Be A #VILF” campaign includes a funny digital ad of “A-1 hottie” Trevor preening at his mirror and working out at the gym. But Trevor’s appeal ultimately flames out, because he didn’t bother to register to vote. Mischief takes the #VILF theme to its full extreme with branded condoms, T-shirts, campaign buttons and yard signs. Condoms go there with slogans such as, “Do Me for the Country” and “Looking Forward to a Raging Election.”

OKCupid will deliver this swag to a group of influencers, who will star in a spoof makeup video tutorial that demonstrates the hotness of voting.

“This campaign celebrates all the VILFs out there doing their hot, sexy civic duty,” said Bianca Guimaraes and Kevin Mulroy, co-ECDs at Mischief, in a statement.

This week, OKCupid began handing out merchandise in Washington and launched the spot on social. Next week, the campaign will run in New York City and Los Angeles, geo-targeted to OkCupid audiences. 

The campaign is fun and cheeky, but it has also merit. OkCupid research revealed that the vast majority of its members care about politics, and more than 100,000 users have enabled an in-app badge that tells potential suitors they are registered to vote. People with the voting badge enabled are 85% more likely to receive a message on the app, and 76% of survey respondents said that how their date leaned politically was very important to them. 

But voting is also a super serious matter, especially in this contentious election. So The Ad Council, in conjunction with the Entertainment & Youth Group at ViacomCBS, is telling young adults to "vote for your life" in a campaign focused on reaching Blacks and Latinos with messages surrounding justice, security and jobs.

The campaign, which includes TV commercials and digital advertising, cites research that voter registration is down by as much as 70% in some states among GenZ and millennial cohorts. 

The goal is to drive people to companion Spanish and English-language VoteForYourLife sites to register via an urgent, black-and-yellow digital banner. Meanwhile, commercials underscore the message, with opening graphics that ask: “Hey, how are you? Don’t give up.”

Ads will run on ViacomCBS youth outlets, such as MTV, Comedy Central and Logo, as well as on CBS, and on donated media from companies including Reddit, TuneIn and Univision. 

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