Facebook has become a battleground for opposing political viewpoints and a lightning rod for criticism about social media’s perceived role in undermining democracy, but a global creative competition with a Canadian connection recently challenged young creative teams to devise ways the social platform can be used to further voter’s rights.
The fourth instalment of the Young Glory creative competition was based on the theme “Interfere with the 2020 U.S. election,” and challenged participants to come up with ways of using Facebook—including Instagram and WhatsApp—to get more people to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election. Only 58.1% of eligible voters participated in the 2016 election.
Young Glory was conceived by Rafik Belmesk, vice-president, head of strategy at Taxi Montreal, and Brendan Graham (now senior director of marketing for Foot Locker Asia Pacific) in 2011, when the two men were working in Asia.
It grew out of the realization that many global awards shows typically reward one-off ideas, ignoring what they believe is one of the most important aspects of a creative’s career: consistency.
The Young Glory competition challenges participants to come up with solutions to eight creative briefs over eight months, with Belmesk describing it as “the Tour de France for young creatives.” All of the briefs are developed and judged by eight creative leaders from around the world.
The idea, says Belmesk, is that Young Glory rewards consistently great creative thinkers as opposed to ideas that capture the proverbial lightning in a bottle. “It’s harder to get lucky through an eight-month period,” he says.
The December brief, the fourth in the 2019-20 competition, was developed by Rethink Montreal partners, creative directors Xavier Blais and Maxime Sauté (the November brief, from Taxi Toronto’s Alexis Bronstorph and Kelsey Horne, was about making insects as desirable as burgers).
For the most recent brief, Blais and Sauté used Rethink’s CRAFTS criteria (is the idea Clear, Relevant, Achievable, Fresh, True and Shareable?) to evaluate the submissions. “Lots of submissions were about changing the platforms, shutting them down, giving out your account to an AI, etc.” said Blais in an e-mail interview with The Message. “We were looking for something that could work if we started [using it] tomorrow.”
The two gold-winning entries in the professional category, one from the creative team of Rubini Gun and Jardin Anderson at M&C Saatchi in Sydney, and the other from the SDWM (Melbourne) team of Bella Plush and Sebastian Covino, both used free or discounted Facebook ad rates to incentivize employers to give their employees time off to vote.
“It’s clever, actionable and it impacts the bottom line,” said Blais, who finished first among Canadian teams when he participated in the Young Glory competition in 2012.
The gold winner in the student competition was a submission called “Call-to-election” from a team at the MADS school in Kyiv, Ukraine. It involved placing a call-to-action button on New York Times articles relating to political posts that directs users to the Vote.gov website when they can register to vote.
“It might seem like a small thing, but both of us had the same gut reaction, ‘Why doesn’t this exist already?'” said Blais. “It’s the exact opposite of fake news proliferating—it’s using actual information to get people to exercise their right [to vote].”
One of seven Canadian teams in the competition, Christopher Vena and Daniel Zhang from Miami Ad School Toronto, won silver for their campaign “Post to Vote” (see the case study below).
Working with Grammarly’s tone detection tool (which analyzes the tone of a person’s post prior to publishing), the program would detect when people are making a “politically charged” Facebook post and give them a choice: Finish the post, or register to vote. Once the registration was complete, they were taken back to Facebook
“We hope that by hijacking the most passionate platform on the internet, we will create change that’s much louder than an argument,” said the two creatives in their case study video.