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How VMLY&R and Snapchat are connecting with Gen Z voters

The Speech to Street campaign turns to AR to create a platform for Gen Z creators to amplify their voices.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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The notion that young people are disengaged with politics is perhaps one of the biggest stereotypes which still surround young people.  In the wake of a global pandemic, widespread political protests and a mounting climate crisis the political clout of Generation Z (18 to 23 year olds) has never been a more vital force for change.

It is this insight which underpins the award winning ’Speech to Street’ campaign, a Snapchat Lens which encourages Gen Z voters to use their voice and make a choice to vote in today’s local election. 

The Augmented Reality lens experience is designed to give a political platform to Generation Z in a way that no-one has done before. The campaign, which was created by Snapchat and supported with media activation, encourages Gen Z voters to  openly voice their opinions around key political issues. 

Gen Z are social activists

The lens is powered by research into what Generation Z cares about when it comes to politics and society. The research, commissioned by Snap and VMLY&R highlights the issues that matter the most to the next generation of voters. Mental health topped the agenda (40%) making it the number one priority for Generation Z voters, followed by concerns over the availability of NHS healthcare (27%) wages and the cost of living (26%), poverty and homelessness (25%) and jobs (24%).

This is the insight which underpins the AR lens which Snapchat Users can use to show what they care about most as well as encourage their friends to go out and vote ahead of today’s local elections. According to VMLY&R the campaign hopes to awaken young voters and their passions for social justice and civic duty, enabling them to effect change on the biggest stage while transforming their own lives and communities in the process.

Matt Jones and Abi Stephenson, Creatives at VMLY&R, explained:  ‘During elections we all hear and see the lofty promises made by politicians, but many young people feel like their voices and opinions are sidelined or marginalised. Speech to Street is a civic engagement tool that cuts through the bull and genuinely elevates the opinions and voices of the Gen Z community, helping inspire them to enact change through ground-up activism and conversation, and most of all, making their opinion count on election day’.

During elections we all hear and see the lofty promises made by politicians, but many young people feel like their voices and opinions are sidelined or marginalised.

Matt Jones and Abi Stephenson, Creatives at VMLY&R

Speech to Street is the first campaign to be awarded by the Snapchat Creative Council, which was formed in September 2020 in partnership with Creative Equals. The group of leading UK creatives were tasked with building bridges between industry and Snapchatters with an initial focus on mental health and civic duty amongst Gen Z and millennials.

Notably the campaign underlines the role of AR as a tool for self-expression and cuts through the stereotypes that surround young people's use of media. Dino Myers-Lamptey, Founder of The Barber Shop, pointed to the way in which the campaign underlines the role of tech platforms such as Snapchat to create a communications channel for younga and underrepresented voices.  While fellow judge  Gracie Page, Managing DIrector at SJR, notes that while technology is shaping our world ‘headlines often focus on panic not progress. “The Snapchat Creative Council brief is testament to the positive impact it can have when technology enables creativity.”

Ali Hanan, CEO of Creative Equals notes that the campaign is launching at a pivotal moment in time. She explains: “Young people have been one of the hardest hit groups during the pandemic. Currently, they are struggling in terms of mental health, long-term job prospects and engagement with education. Now, more than ever, they need to have their voices heard, valued and respected within the political arena.”                  

By cutting through the stereotypes which not only surround Generation Z, but technology itself, this campaign is a powerful reminder of the importance of active listening in the creative process. By reflecting the diverse political concerns of Generation Z and actively amplifying their voices the campaign is a compelling reminder of the importance of choosing to vote.          

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