How Rock the Vote Registered 1.5 Million Millennial Voters


Rock the Vote - Election FM app

It’s a challenge Rock the Vote has been trying to solve since Madonna wrapped her semi-clad body in an American flag and outraged folks in 1990. This presidential cycle, Rock the Vote has succeeded in registering 1.5 million youths and millennials — short of its goal of registering 2 million Millennial voters by November 8th, but a credit to its grassroots, mobile and brand efforts to rally youths to take a stand this critical US election.

Rock the Vote

It’s reaching young voters where they live—on their phones—with a tried-and-true tactic: using music and musicians to speak to kids. So Rock the Vote is joining with Google and the Pew Charitable Trust to get young Americans out to the polls this election day. It’s using geolocation and mobile marketing to make exclusive music tracks available to young music fans to woo them to exercise their civic duty. But one catch: the app is available only in the vicinity of a US polling station.

Head and the Heart, Local Natives, Watsky and Adam Vida may all be artists that draw a blank for Gen X or older, but they’re well-known to the 18 to 29-year-old demographic, a cohort that only saw 45 percent head to the polls in 2012. To boost those numbers, Rock the Vote’s Election FM app is sharing exclusive tracks from those artists to stream at polling locations across the US.

The partnership cross-references Google Maps geolocation technology and Google Civic Information with the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Voting Information Project database to invite people to unlock music while they wait in line to vote. Just visit to retrieve directions to an assigned polling location, and once they are within range, the songs will play.

When we asked Goodby Silverstein & Partners, the agency behind the idea, if maybe old people like yours truly would lament the need to “bribe” kids into voting, the agency said they see it more as a way to encourage voting and make it a more engaging civic action.

“By partnering with their favorite bands for Election FM, we’re helping them feel more comfortable and less intimidated by the voting process,” said copywriter Kurt Mills, who hopes Rock the Vote will continue to use it in future campaigns.

That’s not the only Rock the Vote partnership, of course. Retail partners this election include American Eagle Outfitters (promoting a pro-marriage equality and gay rights message with Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan) and Bebe stores.

Major props to @bebe_stores for leading by example and committing to Corporate Civic Responsibility ✔️

A photo posted by Rock the Vote (@rockthevote) on

Kendall Jenner recreated the famous Rosie the Riveter poster to get out the message:

Doritos has been been doing its part to encourage millennials to get out and vote, too.

Rock the Vote x Doritos election 2016

Rock the Vote teamed with Doritos this election cycle for “No Choice” flavors (tagline: “The boldest choice is making a choice.”)

Rock the Vote logoAs part of the Boldest Choice campaign, a vending machine dispensed limited edition bags of Doritos to registered voters, and “No Choice” bags to those who admitted to not yet registering to vote as food for thought if they were still undecided on who to vote for — or if they planned to vote at all.

It’s part of Rock the Vote’s multimillion-dollar US-wide campaign called Truth to Power, which hosted a concert in July and a coast-to-coast bus tour to engage and mobilize Millennials across the US in the 2016 election.

Working with nonprofit and corporate partners like Doritos, Rock the Vote aims to register two million new voters before Election Day on November 8th and to help drive Millennial turnout in key swing states. Two weeks ago, it announced it had registered 1.5 million voters.

And of course it still wants its MTV, a partner of Rock the Vote for a quarter-century. This US presidential election cycle, MTV and Rock the Vote partnered on the “Elect This” campaign, with the ACLU as a partner organization. And if you’re reading this and you’re American and of voting age — a reminder to please get out and vote on Tuesday.