Levi Strauss, Snapchat push to boost voter turnout in midterm elections

Tuesday is National Voter Registration Day, and Levi Strauss and Snapchat are looking to help improve on the dismal participation rate seen in 2016 -- that election saw the lowest rate of eligible voters casting ballots in 72 years.

The 165-year-old denim brand this week debuted a television spot showing a diverse group voting against the backdrop of the 1968 Aretha Franklin song "Think." It's also hosting voter registration booths in some stores and selling a limited edition "Vote" T-shirt, working with the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization Rock the Vote to increase awareness and turnout, particularly among younger Americans.

Levi’s® “Use Your Vote” by Levi's® on YouTube

Also seeking to encourage younger Americans to exercise their rights as citizen, Snapchat is providing U.S. users of the messaging platform who are at least 18 a voter registration link from their user profile page. 

For Levi Strauss, the voter push comes weeks after the San Francisco retailer pledged more than $1 million to back nonprofits and youth activists working to end deadly shootings in the U.S.

"The gun violence epidemic in America has hit a point where something has to be done," Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh told the Washington Post earlier this month. "It's inevitable that we're going to alienate some consumers, but we can longer sit on the sidelines and remain silent on this issue."

Bergh, a former U.S. Army officer, told the newspaper he isn't looking to repeal the Second Amendment. Rather, he hopes to get elected officials to take specific actions to curb gun violence, like mandating criminal background checks for those buying weapons or restricting gun sales to those 21 and older. 

The Levi's chief also said he felt added urgency to do more after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, in February. Historically, the apparel company has tended to lend more financial support to Democratic lawmakers, including in the current electoral cycle, campaign contribution data show.

The retailer has a receptive audience in younger Americans, an increasing number of whom are registering to vote, according a new analysis by TargetSmart, a marketing consultancy that caters to nonprofit groups. Younger voters are positioned to have an outsized impact in key battleground races including in Pennsylvania, where youth voter registration surged by 10 points after the Parkland shooting, the firm found.