Sprite's newest marketing campaign encourages black youth to vote

With the presidential election in a week, Sprite is encouraging black and multicultural youth to make their voices heard in the polls.

In a handful of 15-second commercials debuting during today's BET Hip Hop Awards, six emerging artists explain why voting is important to them and their community. The people featured are photographer Yvette Glasco, illustrator Neka King, fashion designers Blu Boy and Dorothy Lawes, and artists Foremost and Sage Guillory.

"We were shown that things that shouldn't be changed shouldn't be changed," says Guillory in his clip.

The ads created by Wieden + Kennedy New York are part of a larger initiative called “Create Your Future”, a non-partisan initiative to educate people about the right to vote and the electoral process.

Danielle Henry, group leader for integrated content at Coca-Cola North America, said that Sprite's goal is to help multicultural youth make their mark on The Choice.

"That doesn't mean Sprite is going to be political," added Henry. "We encourage our most valuable audiences to participate in the electoral process."

The marketing campaign will be displayed on multiple media including out-of-home and streaming audio. On October 1, Sprite premiered a 15-second commercial informing viewers that they could vote early by mail. A few weeks later, the Coca-Cola brand launched a 30-second ad featuring Sprite's six young artists on Spotify and Twitter. The commercial is slated to appear at the beginning of the BET Hip Hop Awards this evening.

Sprite has a long history of showcasing hip hop and basketball culture in its campaigns. In commercials, musicians from Kurtis Blow in the 1980s and Missy Elliott in the 1990s were introduced to NBA superstars Grant Hill and LeBron James.

Last June Sprite, like many other brands, donated money and supported Black Lives Matter. "America has proven its love for black culture, but now it has to prove its love for black people," said a tweet from Sprite's official Twitter account.

"Our strength as a brand is in the black community," said Henry. "And it's really important for our community and our most valuable consumers to know that we are still seeing them and supporting them."

In the 2016 presidential election, black voter turnout fell for the first time in 20 years, according to the Pew Research Center. Among black voters, 59.6% cast a vote this year, down from a record high of 66.6% in 2012. Turnout for Asian, Hispanic and White voters rose or remained unchanged.

In late June, the Coca-Cola Company announced to its employees that Election Day would be a paid holiday for all full-time employees in the United States.

While Sprite has encouraged fans to comment and express their views on various topics in the past, Sprite has never specifically advocated that people vote first. Henry said that with everything that happened in 2020 and discussions on social media, many of the issues "can be influenced by inclusion in the electoral process".

According to Henry, Sprite plans to "step up" the campaign by election day.

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