Yes on 3: Freedom for All Massachusetts
Messenger Test Case Study
We partnered with Freedom for All Massachusetts during the 2018 midterm cycle to run a persuasion campaign that spanned digital, television, and radio advertising. Our goal was simple: uphold the protections for transgender people that were signed into law two years earlier.
The challenge? Inoculate the voters most susceptible to opposition messaging, a particularly disgusting brand of political fear-mongering. In order to win, we needed to get out ahead of our opponent’s messaging and make sure that their talking points didn’t sink in and siphon off the highest-risk voters — or those most likely to change their mind after hearing opposition arguments. In convincing people to vote Yes on 3, we were protecting the transgender community from losing the rights they had won just two years before.
Working with Clarity Campaign Labs, we identified high-risk voters and built an issue-specific persuasion model. We identified the voters most vulnerable to opposition messaging and focused our efforts on communicating directly with them. The creation of this model allowed us to focus on retaining the individuals — not broad groups — most vulnerable to our opponent’s messaging by delivering the most persuasive creative.
We also used broad, demographic targeting to communicate with the rural Springfield DMA, identified by polling as less supportive of the measure than the more urban DMAs closer to Boston and other large cities.
Once we identified our persuasion audience, we knew that we needed to deliver a values-based message that focused on storytelling and the implications on real people visible to voters in Massachusetts. We leveraged our real-world testing platform, Vantage, to determine the message that worked best for our specific persuasion audience in the real world.
We tested three pieces of creative that covered two distinct messaging tracks. One creative execution argued that the law protects against discrimination and upholds dignity and respect; the other two ads refuted the opposition’s claim that transgender rights are a threat to public safety.
We answered two questions that impacted the messaging we ran in the campaign. First, what was the most persuasive creative execution among the three ads? And second, what was the most effective refutation to our opponent’s “public safety” message?
WHAT WE DID:
Campaign strategy, custom audience build, creative development, media planning, ad buying (including TV, radio, and digital), randomized controlled field experiment (using Vantage),and reporting.
Our work with Freedom for All Massachusetts highlighted the importance of good fundamentals: we found the right audience, identified messages that resonated most with them, and delivered that message effectively. As a result, we won by a 40-point margin on election night.
With Vantage testing, we answered both research questions. Every ad was persuasive, but the dignity and equality message was our highest-performing execution, increasing favorability and message awareness among our persuasion audience by nearly 20 percentage points and in 346 of 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts. Both refutations of the “public safety” message increased favorability equally and by more than 10 percentage points.