How to Reach 44 Million People

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There are 311,591,917 people and counting in the United States. So how do six people reach the 44 million young Americans eligible to vote on Election Day? Through pop culture, music, new technologies, and grassroots organizing.

An Evening with Rock the Vote

At a recent Ad2DC event, guest speaker Chrissy Faessen, VP Marketing and Communications at Rock the Vote, explained just how much influence a group of passionate individuals can have.

“Founded twenty-one years ago at the intersection of popular culture and politics, Rock the Vote has registered more than five million young people to vote and has become a trusted source of information for young people about registering to vote and casting a ballot.” – Rock the Vote website.

Most people assume that Rock the Vote is somehow affiliated with MTV. Faessen explained that this is most likely due to the incredible exposure it gained during their early years with Rock the Vote’s popular PSA’s on MTV featuring celebrities and musicians, like the first one with Madonna for instance:


In fact, strategic partners like MTV are still a big part of what makes its message spread.  Can you believe that back in the day MTV did all the Rock the Vote PSA’s for free? Just imagine how much that airtime is worth now!

Rock the Vote’s mission ­­– to engage and build political power for young people in our country – is one that most musicians and celebrities have been happy to support by giving a shout out at their concert, posting a YouTube video encouraging fans to register, or just by wearing a Rock the Vote t-shirt – all the while adding massively to Rock the Vote’s brand visibility. I must say, the marketing team here really lucked out.

Want proof? Check out this star studded video:

Faessen also explained her marketing approach at Rock the Vote (which, by the way, would translate well into many organizations):

  • Demystify the process of registering and voting
  • Go to young people
  • Be relevant
  • Shape the media narrative
  • Convince
  • Develop partnerships
  • Test, test, test

Clearly they have achieved huge success through this process. I personally don’t know anyone in my peer group who doesn’t know what Rock the Vote is or what it does.

Its strategic use of new technology (like text messaging and QR codes) and heavy research ensures that the Rock the Vote message is reaching its target audience where they are and with the communication method of their choice.

Faesson smirked as she explained their lax brand guidelines. She tells partners and sponsors that there are no rules when applying the logo to posters, t-shirts, etc. Just “use the Rock the Vote logo loud, and use it proud,” Faesson says. As a design agency, this was shocking. As a marketing company, this was brilliant. This organization definitely gained great exposure from allowing this freedom, and apparently hasn’t lost brand recognition. (Although, I still wouldn’t recommend this for most organizations.)

We are impressed with Rock the Vote’s marketing techniques, but most importantly with how six thrifty individuals have organized such a powerful organization. Great work Faesson and team, you’ve got our vote!