Inside a beer company's campaign to make Election Day a federal holiday

Blue Point Brewing Company's Voters' Day Off campaign generated more than 136,850 signatures on Change.org.

Company: Blue Point Brewing Company, a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev
Campaign: Voters’ Day Off
Agency Mix: Praytell (PR), in-house (copywriting), Dentsu (media)
Duration: October-November 2018

Leading up to the midterm elections, Blue Point Brewing Company managed to incorporate itself into the politics-driven news cycle in a nonpartisan, non-polarizing way. Its method? Beer, naturally.

The New York brewery, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, released a new beer on October 1 that came with a message for Congress: make Election Day a federal holiday.

Strategy
Praytell began working with Blue Point at the end of August. From the beginning, the campaign’s goal was to generate positive sentiment around the brand by spotlighting an issue company president Jenna Lally and cofounder Mark Burford were passionate about: voter turnout. Specifically, how abysmally low it is in midterm elections.

In 2016, for example, nearly 60% of registered voters did not cast ballots. Many cited school and work-related conflicts as reasons they weren’t able to make it to the polls, according to a Blue Point statement.

Making Election Day a holiday, Lally and Burford believed, would help increase voter turnout. So Blue Point created a Change.org petition and corresponding beer that urged Congress to do exactly that.

"It’s really important that brands stand for something," Lally said. "We are fortunate that we can stand for a cause like this, one that is bipartisan and relatable to a lot of people."

Tactics
In early October, Blue Point launched its Change.org petition, which called on Congress to "establish Election Day as a federal holiday," along with its IPA called Voters’ Day Off.

On October 15, the brand ran a full-page ad in The New York Times spotlighting the petition and beer, which the ad described as having been brewed "to protect democracy and make sure all our voices are heard." In addition to signing the online petition, drinkers could sign their empty cans and send them to Congress.

The company also reached out to outlets and pushed out original social content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, including a number of videos.

The petition and beer had "this amazing political angle," said Lisa Derus, manager of craft comms at Anheuser-Busch. She noted that, as midterms continued to dominate the news cycle, "it was an awesome campaign to work from media perspective."

As November 6 drew nearer, the beer was available at the brewery’s Patchogue, New York, tasting room, and was served at a number of Blue Point events, including its 20th anniversary celebration. All proceeds went to Rock the Vote.

On Election Day, Blue Point gave its workers the day off, a tradition it plans to continue going forward.

Results
Blue Point’s Change.org petition has received 136,850 online signatures, in addition to 3,000 signatures that came via signed cans.

Voters’ Day Off generated 43 media placements from a variety of publications, including MSNBC, Yahoo Finance, Food & Wine, AOL, Fox News, and Thrillist, nearly half of which were in-depth features on the campaign.

Blue Point’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts about the campaign, a mix of paid and organic content, generated a collective 15,750 engagements, including 13,750 likes, 1,380 shares/retweets, and 620 comments. According to the company’s social listening tool, consumer sentiment was 95% positive, 1% neutral, and 4% negative.

That was a relief to Lally who was initially worried the campaign would be controversial, despite its bipartisan message.

"I think the question becomes: Why should a beer brand be taking a position on this? You always run the risk when you are talking about anything political of alienating certain people," she said.

But in the end, "people were very supportive of the cause, and the fact that Blue Point was participating in it," Lally added.

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