Only 65% of people voted in the 2010 UK election, with a majority of non-voters being young people. In the run up to the General Election on 7 May 2015, Pentagram decided to combat this disengagement.
The result is I Give An X, a non-partisan, online campaign that asks people to visit the I Give An X website, pick an X to download and share as their profile picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #igiveanx. By living in social media, I Give An X has a relevance to younger voters and, by allowing them to wear a virtual badge of pride, the campaign can influence their social circles as well.
Disengagement around elections is very dangerous. Parties were campaigning with carefully scripted soundbites and very little emotional or intellectual honesty. It’s unsurprising that the younger electorate were disinterested - but they needed to take an interest. Beneath the soundbites lay very different parties who will take the country’s health, education, welfare, safety and senses of tolerance and generosity in very different directions. For the new generation of electorate, it really matters to vote - hence this idea.
The website is purposefully simple, allowing 93 individually designed and handmade graphic Xs take centre stage. The decision to make 93 Xs was because we’re all different and each one of us has a voice. We’re fed up with people telling us what to do – we’re working from the bottom up.
The 93 Xs are accompanied by a video manifesto created by Pentagram that explains why it’s so important to give an X and have a say in the issues facing the UK. The words are said over a combination of live action and photographic Xs alongside the 93 graphic ones.
We thought the campaign needed a manifesto – an about, or a why. And it needed be video-based because video is most instant and emotive way to make an online audience care.
Our #igiveanx hashtag reached 480,000 people and a third of visitors to our website downloaded an X to use. The campaign ran for a month and to keep our content exciting we enlisted the help of talented creatives to create their own Xs to be featured. They included Paula Scher, Harry Pearce, Kate Moross, Spin Studio, Sara Fanelli, Tiernan Douieb and Lewis Parker.
Our Xs were downloaded by prominent figures including Armando Iannucci (the creator of The Thick of It and Veep) and Rick Edwards (TV presenter and author of None of the Above). The campaign was covered by The Guardian, Quartz, Mashable, It’s Nice That, Design Week, The Drum and Branding Magazine.
In a final push, we tweeted 99 reasons to vote across the 15 hours the polls were open on election day as a constant reminder of the importance of taking part. As the results came in it was announced that voter turnout was its highest since Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. Although we cannot claim the credit, we are very proud to have been part of an election where democratic pride prevailed.