- The Election
- How to break 10,000 views on Facebook from an audience of less than 600 in 5 days, flip an entire campus upside down, get disqualified from your student government elections, and fight back like a champ.
I was just getting settled in to college, when my friend George, asked me to help design a button that folks could wear to promote him during the Student Government elections, at the University of Mobile. George, a multi-talented creative from Boston, transferred to Mobile in the Spring of 2010. He was bored, I was bored, so naturally it occured to us: rather than just designing a button, wouldn't it be fun if we threw the entire election process upside-down, and completely dominate the compeition?
And that's exactly how that election went down.The entire process for the election is timed: put simply, there's about 1 1/2 weeks to put together your story, your campaign platform, and any marketing materials you wish to create, and 6 days to promote your campaign. That Friday (Day 7 of campaign week), elections are held.Oh, and there's a campaign limit of $250 (put simply, you can't out-buy the competition. Fair enough.)
This project was an incredible challenge, in time limits and creativity, and assets to work with.
I love a good challenge.Here's a couple of methods we used during the campiagn:
- Student Engagement
- Student engagement was our most successful method of campaigning. How do you get people off their feet and involved with the campaign? We found that the people that ended up helping with the campaign (on video production, promotion, random tasks) became our most active and educated campaign members. On our small campus, 5 of our campaign members attributed about 20% of the word of mouth promotion we recieved. That’s a huge chunk.
Our largest source, however, came from our buttons. The first artwork that we designed in the campaign was for a 2.25” button. This sucked over $120 of our $250 mandated budget, our largest expense in the pre-production phase. But they totally proved their worth.
The buttons were fantastically successful on campus, and attributed to 60% of our campaigns success.
Even months after the campaign ended, you can spot a button here and there on campus. The work outlasted its purpose.As a bonus, here's two guys who started wearing the buttons as piercings:
- Print Media
- Print Media was our second major player in the campaign. After we ordered the buttons, the budget only left us with $100, so any sort of premium printing was already shot out the window.
We knew that about 80% of the materials that we printed would be disposed of — which is bad news when one of your major platform points is to increase environmental awareness on campus. We still got a lot of flack for how much paper we used, but in reality, all but 40 sheets were recovered, which was great in our eyes.
Here's a major factor in how we designed our posters: we made 100% sure there was a call to action available, giving our posters a purpose: to bring them to the campaign website. This, i believe, had a huge impact on getting our campaign out there.In total we printed 3 materials: Two poster concepts, and one double sided flyer.
NOTE Probably important to know that the sketch of George is a sketch from a library art class he modeled for. Nifty re-use, huh?
- The original goal for the videos was to produce a video every day of the 5 day campaigning period, the first four coinciding with each major point in our platform, but that fell through mid-week when disaster struck (no spoilers, you'll just have to keep reading!). Here are the first three videos that we had produced. The general idea was to outline the 4 major points of our campaign: Health, Community, Campus and Environment.
- Funny enough, in the insanely digital age of our college aged world, we were left disappointed in our results on the web. It turns out, after the first day, people got really bored with Facebook. With the small size of our school, that's pretty understandable. Admittedly, these were the very last details to the project: we may have relied too heavily on the power and viral aspects of the web to carry it's own.Here's what we produced for the web and our findings.
- Our facebook page was pretty basic but had a purpose: to display all of the videos and platform materials we had.
- The profile pictures were a minor success: we weren't sure if anyone would really bite on this, but we got about a dozen or two folks to change their profile pictures.
- In the end, we were informed that a student had tipped of the campus life staff that George hadn't actually met a requirement hidden in the student constitution (he needed to be involved with the student government as a senator or cabinet member for at least one year), and part of his 60 credit requirement was fufilled at Boston University, rather than our school. These weren't explicitly stated, and 3 different school offices signed off our papers from the beginning, so we had no doubts.We appealed the Judicial Board, and the President of our University over the matter. In the end we were not "disqualified", but the election was cancelled, and everyone was required to reapply with a new application form, fully stating the requirements. A really clever way of not disqualifying us, but not letting us re enter.Ah well. So is life.