The Gum Election was a guerilla art project that started in New York City as a way to encourage people to vote, as well as to encourage them not to spit out their chewing gum carelessly on the already dirty streets.
Posters were printed and placed at more than 50 ‘hot spots’ throughout the city, and each encouraged passerbys to stick their gum to their least favorite candidate’s face. Results could then be counted, and each poster’s message grew stronger as the gum count grew to match.
However, the beauty of the Gum Election was not that it gave people an excuse to stick their gum to something, but rather that it gave people a voice, and let them express that voice with tools they already had at hand in a way that was easy to understand and take part in.
Forget blind taste tests and compensated focus groups; if you want to know what people really think of your product, just put out posters with you and your main competitor on them and see where the gum lands.
Keep in mind that for this to work as an advertising program, you probably want to be pretty sure of the results beforehand, but regardless of what happens, you’re still getting your brand in front of plenty of eager eyes, and doing so in an approachable and interactive way.
In addition, this idea could easily expand online with digital vote counts, webcams of the posters, banner ads, and more. By turning the vote into a larger phenomenon, people will actively seek out the posters so that they can take part, and you’ll get additional response just from the power of social validation.
Gum Elections are definitely not the cleanest way to advertise your brand, and they’re also not the most legal, but if you’re looking for a way to show up the competition, they just might be the most fun.
- Interactive ads and social validation encourage participation.
- Easy to recognize and understand.
- Expandable into other channels.
- Uniqueness cuts through ad filter.
- Guerilla nature of the campaign makes legality questionable.
- Restricts target demographic by location and age.
- Risk of losing the vote.
- Interactive ads give customers a voice, and let them easily share that voice with others.