In one of the most anticipated electoral battles in years, voters in the 2023 Memphis mayoral election were not faced with a lack of choice. In a race to replace the term-limited incumbent, seventeen challengers threw their hats into the ring in an attempt to become the next to represent the citizens of Memphis. Those entering the race included the Shelby County Sherriff, the President of the NACCP, and former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

Six percent of voting-age citizens in Memphis live in a voting desert and historically, voters in the Memphis mayoral election were 15.7 years older than voting-age residents. So, when Paul Young, a newcomer to the political space and the youngest candidate in the field launched his campaign, it was clear that a path to victory was not going to be easy.

The Campaign

With Young having little to no name recognition among the electorate, it would be imperative to quickly raise his profile in order to move voters from awareness to consideration with the ultimate goal of having them select Young as their candidate of choice. To accomplish this, the Young campaign engaged VoteShift, a full-service firm committed to championing candidates fighting for racial equity, climate justice, a shared economic future, and more.

As the digital arm for VoteShift, we were engaged to help plan and place Young’s campaign messages in order to amplify his platform and personality to the voters of Memphis. To increase name recognition and visibility around the issues central to Young’s campaign, we crafted a four-month media plan that included strategic implementation and targeted campaigns across display, CTV, YouTube, OLV, and Off-Social Story Ads.

We leveraged our semantic targeting technology to focus on the content prospective voters were engaging with. This involves conducting a page, sound, and speech check prior to placement to ensure we fully understand the content and that ads will show up in spaces that are both relevant and brand-safe.

By combining unique targeting options with cutting-edge formats, we were able to bring visibility around the issues central to his campaign and increase Young’s name recognition by 12 points. Our slow-burn strategy included targeting key demographics on YouTube to establish Young’s presence and placing advertising on local news outlets, such as Fox 13 Memphis and Blue Path Memphis.

Throughout our campaign, we slowly increased spend to ensure Young was visible everywhere voters were. The campaign continued through Election Day, ensuring every voter was exposed to his platform right up to the closing of the polls.

On to Political Victory

Over 57K votes were cast on Election Day – the highest turnout in the city since 2007. Young came out the victor, capturing 27.62% of the votes.

In the end, Young ran a strong campaign and raised more money than any other candidate – including receiving donations from every zip code within the city. But, more importantly, he was able to share his message with the people of Memphis in ways that connected with voters to convince them he was the best candidate for the job.

We are proud to have built a successful media strategy that contributed to his campaign’s success and to be able to showcase the impact that a comprehensive adtech strategy can have in political campaigns. If you’re looking to transform your ad experience into a true voter connection, we have the tools, people, and processes to help you achieve success as well.

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