Case Study:
Illinois Education Association

Situation:
Many Democrats fell victim to voter unrest in the 2010 election cycle. The tough economy and the public's desire for change sent many incumbents packing. In Illinois, the fight for the Governor's seat took on a similar tenor as Democratic Governor Pat Quinn fought for votes. From the start, many polls and pundits counted Quinn out. But the Illinois Education Association endorsed Governor Quinn and his running mate Sheila Simon. IEA viewed both as strong supporters of education and Simon's background as an educator and IEA member was icing on the cake. IEA knew the race would be an uphill battle and they needed an equally strong strategy to get its members motivated to support Quinn. With Visuality's guidance, creative support and experience, IEA launched an attention-grabbing campaign aimed at promoting Governor Quinn and revealing his opponent, Bill Brady, as Bad for Schools. Visuality's creative and bold plan for IEA would help create one of the lone bright spots in a tough year for Democrats.

Action:
The Illinois Education Association needed an innovative approach to engage its members and Illinois voters in the Governor's race. The two candidates had extremely different ideas on how to "save" Illinois schools. To highlight those drastic differences, Visuality proposed a big seed campaign focused on unique, creative media. A big seed campaign is a cost-effective strategy that starts with the creation of memorable media that uses humor, fear or other emotional triggers to engage membership. These media creatives plant a seed that can be virally passed on to involve other members, colleagues and the public. While focused on cutting-edge creatives, IEAs big seed campaign was firmly rooted in sophisticated strategy and message development based on polling.

The big seed campaign for IEA began with the development of simple phrase designed to resonate with stakeholders: Bill Brady is Bad for Schools. Visuality knew this stark statement would grab the attention of IEA members, raise awareness of the issues, and encourage participation in the election. The theme was brought to life in dynamic e-mails, videos, web activities and e-cards that ignited discussions, pushed the research-based message out, and even captured the attention of news outlets such as the Huffington Post, NBC and Chicago area newspapers.



As one journalist put it, "The Illinois Education Association alone scared the pants off suburban educators, convincing them Brady would decimate public education and pensions. The e-mails that circulated among teachers in the final weeks of the campaign pushed swing voters and women to vote against Brady." (Daily Southtown columnist Kristen McQueary)

Visuality raised the bar by producing videos with unexpected spokespeople and shocking reveals Web advertising increased views of the edgy, viral media and motivated more people to get involved in the discussion. Each e-mail, video and Facebook update pointed back to a Visuality-designed and developed Support Schools Illinois website. The site became the hub for IEA communications and for members and voters to find information about the gubernatorial candidates.

Results:
IEA's big seed strategy helped Governor Quinn and Sheila Simon hold strong against the tidal wave of Republican victories. Visuality's videos, e-mails, Facebook communications, and print piece educated and motivated IEA members to get to the voting booths. The educators' votes made the difference in the extremely close race giving Governor Quinn a win! IEA was elated with its members and the media's response to the big seed work. The Visuality-led campaign of using innovative creatives and media to inform and energize IEA members paid off for educators', students' and Illinois' future.