Here’s a different kind of October surprise: Hillary Clinton’s campaign has tapped three big YouTubers — GloZell Green, Todrick Hall and Sam Tsui — for a video ad campaign urging millennials to vote for the U.S.’s first female presidential candidate.
In the videos, each YouTube star makes an unannounced, over-the-top visit to one of their fans in three battleground states: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The Hillary for America campaign recruited digital studio Portal A to produce the segments, which are designed to be fun and uplifting and carry the theme of “#StrongerTogether.”
With less than two weeks before Election Day, the Clinton campaign is especially focused on Florida, where the latest polls show a tight race with Donald Trump. Clinton is scheduled to return this weekend to the Sunshine State, which represents a coveted 29 electoral votes.
“This came together because our campaign is heading into the final stretch and we’re heavily focused on turning out younger voters,” said Jason Rosenbaum, HFA’s director of digital advertising. “It’s our campaign’s closing argument.”
Rosenbaum declined to say what HFA is spending on the YouTube get-out-the-vote campaign. In addition to funding the videos from GloZell, Hall and Tsui, Hillary for America will buy advertising on YouTube to promote them.
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The three YouTube creators have a combined subscriber base of more than 9.4 million fans, and the “One Vote at a Time” ads are designed to reach a cohort of potential voters who watch less TV than their elders. Millennials “are much more likely to be watching YouTube and get messaging that way,” said Sarah Galvez, audience growth strategist. “The fact is that these creators are influential to people in that category.”
Todrick Hall’s video, shot in Philadelphia, features him parading in front of a marching band and surrounded by flash mob of dancers. GloZell’s includes synchronized swimmers in a pool full of Froot Loops in Orlando, Fla., and Tsui stages a live, pop-up concert performance in Columbus, Ohio. The Hillary ads with Hall (here) and GloZell (here) went live on their YouTube channels Thursday, and Tsui’s is slated to debut Nov. 1.
“We know that younger people are tired of negative politics,” said Rosenbaum. “We teamed up with Portal A and a couple of YouTube’s top influencers to develop incredible, entertaining experiences to encourage and inspire people to vote.” Hillary for America has posted a 15-second clip of Todrick Hall’s segment on its YouTube channel and next week will release a 30-second sizzle of the whole series.
The Clinton campaign’s move to rope in digital influencers shows a level of savvy not seen before in a national political campaign, said Portal A managing director Zach Blume. The studio is best known for producing the “YouTube Rewind” year-in-review video compilation. “It’s one thing to just run ads on YouTube or Facebook. It’s very different to work with creators like this.”
Overall, as Clinton has widened her lead over Trump in the polls, she’s also gained ground on YouTube. Clinton-related videos had 164 million views on YouTube from Oct. 15-21, up 50% from the week prior, beating Trump’s 120 million views over the same time period, according to video tech and analytics firm Zefr.
Some major YouTubers have shied away from taking a political stand in the contentious 2016 election season, either because it deviates from their brands or they just want to avoid inviting controversy. But Blume said he found “a different level of energy and enthusiasm with this project – people really believed in this.”
For Blume, the work with Hillary for America was even more meaningful personally given his background as a political strategist before co-founding Portal A. “It was a dream to work on a project that brought together everything we love about YouTube and this new generation of stars, with the urgency of this political moment,” he said.
Pictured above: Todrick Hall beseeching a fan in Philadelphia to vote.