In the run up to the US election, this campaign, shot by photographers Darius Riley and Andrea Granera, challenges racist voter suppression tactics
The new ‘Suppress This’ campaign, developed pro bono by Duncan Channon, positions mail-in voting as the way for at-risk Black and brown voters to give the middle finger to those in power who would benefit from their absence at the polls. The creative centres striking portraits of Black and brown Americans shot by POC photographers Darius Riley and Andrea Granera, while highlighting the mail-in ballot as the solve for voting challenges from both systematic suppression and COVID-19. Hard-hitting lines like ‘They can push voter ID laws, shut down the polling place in your neighbourhood, make you wait hours in line in a pandemic,’ tee up ‘But they can’t take your ballot’ as an empowering call to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.
The work is particularly relevant at a time when voter suppression, United States Postal Service issues and the pandemic’s impact on US elections are making headlines. For voters of colour who disproportionately face suppression tactics such as biased voter-ID legislation and limited polling sites in their own communities, the pandemic adds a new obstacle this November. With Black and brown Americans three times more likely to get coronavirus and twice more likely to die from it, Vote From Home 2020 asserts that no one should have to risk their life to cast their ballot.
“Voting by mail is a safe option to participate in an election already disrupted by a pandemic - one that has disproportionately impacted communities of color nationwide. Yet, research shows that older, white voters are the most likely to request mail-in ballots,” said Suzy Smith and Ben Tyson, co-founders, Vote From Home 2020. “Vote From Home 2020 is dedicated to making the 2020 general election accessible by sending Black, Latinx, and AAPI voters mail-in ballot applications so they have options for voting this fall. We're excited to collaborate with Duncan Channon on ‘Suppress This,’ a powerful campaign centered on how Black and brown voters experience and are proactively dismantling systems historically committed to suppressing them."
To further support the mission of empowering voters and mitigating the effects of suppression and COVID-19 on turnout, additional creative calls citizens to help fight voter suppression by donating to get absentee ballot applications in the hands of at-risk voters. A $25 donation to Vote From Home 2020 equals 20 absentee ballots application packages mailed.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Duncan Channon came together as an agency to ask how they could put their desire for action, and their skills, to use against systemic racism. The agency rallied around the idea to support efforts to turn out marginalised voters -- and reached out to startup organisation Vote From Home 2020. From this initial spark, the ‘Suppress This’ pro bono campaign was born. Duncan Channon worked with One Union, who also donated their time pro bono, to produce the radio and TV spots.
Duncan Channon secured the media for ‘Suppress This’ - 100 percent of which is being donated by media properties including Roku, Buzzfeed, Pandora, Vevo, among others. Meredith Corporation is donating print ad space in select publications such as People, Real Simple, Better Homes and Gardens, Food and Wine and Entertainment Weekly. Digital creative will also be targeted to reach at-risk voters via social media in key swing states Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan. Duncan Channon worked with One Union, who also donated their time pro bono, to produce the radio and TV spots.
“After George Floyd’s murder, we knew we had to take action in the fight for racial justice,” said MJ Deery, director of Duncan Channon’s Purpose Practice. “This tragedy happened to coincide with voter suppression in primary elections across the country. So for us, the choice was staring us in the face with every new poll closure story on the internet. We had to help Black and Brown people get their ballots. No one should have to stand in line for hours in a pandemic.”
Darius Riley, Duncan Channon creative intern and photographer added: “I remember going to the polling place with my Mom when I was seven years old. I’ve always known that voting was power. My ancestors fought our right to vote, and now our access is at risk again. My portraits are all about personal power and change. I hope the work reminds people that they can make change with their vote - and do it safely in a pandemic.”