MONTREAL — Elections Quebec is flipping their usual campaign advertising script in hopes that some fresh messaging will propel more voters out to the polls next month.
The province's elections organizer is mounting a campaign of its own — one to "reverse a trend" toward poor voter turnout by taking a humoristic, even absurd approach to its ads and expanding beyond traditional TV and radio to spaces like TikTok.
The campaign, created by Quebec marketing and communications agency Cossette, is getting noticed for its unique videos on the popular platform that show everything from poutine to maple syrup to a long-stemmed rose going into the ballot box positioned as the star of the video.
"So it's all about putting anything but a ballot in the ballot box every day ... until Oct. 3, when the ballot will finally make its way into the picture," said Elections Quebec spokeswoman Julie St-Arnaud Drolet.
Voter turnout for Quebec's last provincial election in 2018 came in at 66.45 per cent, a drop of nearly five per cent compared to the 2014 turnout of 71.44 per cent. In 2018, the turnout for those aged 35 and younger was 53.41 per cent, 16 per cent lower than those over 35.
"For several decades, we have observed that the younger generations of voters vote less than the generations that preceded them at the same age, we therefore specifically targeted the 18 to 44 age group for our campaign," said St-Arnaud Drolet.
The independent organization that oversees elections said officials tried to focus the campaign on the reasons people identified for why they don't vote, namely a lack of interest in politics.
"A big speech on the importance of democracy would probably be less effective in reaching non-voters," St-Arnaud Drolet said, so they're trying something different to encourage them to vote.
The videos have garnered more than 500,000 total views since the campaign began. That's no easy feat for an organization that's mostly in the public eye around election time and had no prior presence on the platform, said Richard Rochette-Villeneuve, creative director at Cossette.
The organization opened its TikTok account on Aug. 30, or Day 1 of the campaign.
It released three videos to start, inspired by trends on TikTok and using songs popular on the platform. One of them was a take on a popular Corn Kid meme that shows a person shoving a corn on the cob into the ballot box with the words in French: "we like corn, but we like it even more when people vote." It was viewed over 115,000 times.
Last week, a video of a rose being put in the box with a tag "we are in seduction mode to get you to vote on Oct. 3" garnered 283,000 views.
"At first we were worried, we wondered if we were on the right track, but it gave us confidence to keep going," Rochette-Villeneuve said. "The idea behind it is normally we put a ballot in the box but this time we'll put in everything but the ballot leading up to Oct. 3."
While the objective is always getting as close as possible to full participation, St-Arnaud Drolet said that "more realistically, we hope at the very least that voter turnout will be maintained, as it has been falling from election to election for several years."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2022.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the name of Richard Rochette-Villeneuve in the 13th paragraph.