How Agencies Around America Are Encouraging Employees to Vote in the Midterm Elections

Some are shutting down completely on Nov. 6

Some agencies are taking significant actions to ensure their employees get to the polls. Photo Illustratio: Amber McAden; source Getty Images, iStock

Anyone who believed advertising to be an inherently apolitical industry has almost certainly been disabused of that idea as the U.S. reaches the end of another contentious, divisive election season. The number of political side projects created over the past two years alone is enough to suggest that the business is more engaged than most.

Yet, according to data provided to IPG’s Huge by SaaS platform Resonate, a striking 43 percent of marketing and media professionals don’t plan on making it to the polls this year. Perhaps even more surprisingly, the same surveys show that women in these industries are 8 percent less likely than men to say that they will vote.

Agencies around the country are still well aware of the importance of the upcoming midterm elections, and many have taken steps to ensure that their employees participate in the democratic process on Nov. 6.

Many shops offer flexibility to workers who need to take a little extra time to get to the polls and back, and some are going beyond that. We’ve listed some of the more meaningful initiatives below.

Brooklyn’s Praytell: closing offices on Nov. 6

“We’re lucky in that nearly 100 percent of our employees will vote on the 6th regardless of company policy,” Praytell founder Andy Pray said in a statement. “But the symbolic nature of taking the day off isn’t lost on us, as it’s important to raise awareness to the millions who don’t vote because of barriers like work, school, or otherwise. We’ve been super inspired by Jenna Lally (president of client Blue Point Brewery, who made the move to close the company on Nov. 6) and the entire campaign and look forward to making it an annual tradition moving forward.”

Indie shop Clockwork of Minneapolis: closing offices

As founder and CEO Nancy Lyons wrote in a related blog post, “I see this simple act of closing for the day as us demonstrating our values, not just here at work, but in our neighborhoods and greater communities. As a queer woman, my freedom is not something I take lightly. As an entrepreneur, I know how critical that freedom is to my business.”

Nov. 6 will be a paid day off for employees of San Francisco’s Duncan Channon, and the agency is encouraging employees to volunteer at the polls

“When I volunteered for the first time in the 2016 presidential election, it struck me how vital it is to have passionate, civic-minded workers supporting voters at the polls,” said art director J. Moe.

CEO Andy Berkenfield added, “In addition to closing our doors for a full day once a year to volunteer together as an agency, we’re making it easier for employees to participate in their communities at critical moments.”

Six employees, including co-founder and chairman Robert Duncan, have volunteered to assist at local polling locations on election day.

Huge is closing all U.S. offices until noon so employees can vote before coming to work

“Involvement and advocacy are part of the culture at Huge, and we’ve always been supportive of people voting through a flexible work environment and hours,” Huge CEO Michael Koziol said in a statement. “This year we are taking an important step further by closing all U.S. offices the morning of Election Day, making it easier for our people to vote without feeling rushed or compromised by work obligations.”

Posters created by employees in Huge’s Brooklyn headquarters.

Sterling-Rice Group is giving employees the option to take a day off to vote or volunteer in some way to the democratic process

“In the spirit of giving people time off to vote we decided to give an extra day off to all employees to use for this or any form of service,” SRG managing director Amy Krill said in a statement. “We started with the idea of [getting] out the vote but since the majority of our employees are in Colorado and mostly mail in their ballots we extended it to any form of service. A number of employees have taken time off to serve their politicians in advance of the vote.”

Election day will also be a paid day off for all SS+K employees

The M&C Saatchi network, whose principals worked on President Barack Obama’s campaigns, describes itself as “rooted in politics as an agency.” They recently signed the Make Time to Vote pledge and said they will actively encourage employees to volunteer.

David&Goliath declared November “Service Month” and gave all staff members the day off. The hashtag for this effort was #WeAreStrongerThanMe

Other agencies:

-Forsman & Bodenfors New York will allow employees to work from home

-TBWA\Chiat\Day New York will encourage employees to either work from home or take additional break time during the day to allow for them to vote

-Red Tettemer O’Connell + Partners (RTO+P) will close its offices at 1 p.m. on Nov. 6.

-M/H VCCP will give employees the option to work from home

-Young & Laramore of Indianapolis will give its employees an extra “social good day.” This is in addition to the two days each employee receives to work on personal social projects during the year. The agency is also turning over its gym for two precincts to use as voting destinations.

The following agencies will delay office openings by two to three hours on Election Day: Carmichael Lynch, Barbarian, Publicis New York, Terri & Sandy, Firstborn, Walrus, Oberland and Walton Isaacson.

There’s also the small creative shop Fancy, which won’t allow any of its employees to enter the office without an “I Voted” sticker.

Agency leadership did not specify what would happen if an employee’s voting station runs out of stickers.

Here’s hoping, at the very least, that they can encourage a few more Americans to take the time to vote tomorrow.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
@kitten_mouse Lindsay Rittenhouse is a staff writer at Adweek, where she specializes in covering the world of agencies and their clients.