Brigitta Gegenheimer is preparing for a busy post-election workload. The associate art director at the bipartisan public affairs shop Rokk Solutions is focused on getting clients onto TikTok, doing event design and getting billboards ready for the coming advocacy push.
A former industrial designer, who holds a certificate in art therapy, she’s also experienced helping design teams collaborate and work across mediums — a challenge many political creatives are facing right now as they repurpose ads from one channel to another.
C&E: What’s your advice to creatives who are being asked to work outside of their medium during this busy period?
Gegenheimer: It is a time when we’re kind of being pulled in all directions. Especially since the pandemic, everything has become this digital consumption — even more than it was. The biggest thing is just to go for it. It’s only going to increase your brand recognition across these platforms. They may see something that you’ve done, [like] a static ad on Facebook, and maybe later that week see a short video on TikTok, and they’ll start remembering your name or your cause.
C&E: How do you apply testing to your creative?
Gegenheimer: We’ll put out creative messages that have different messaging, different imagery, whether that’s a difference between having one person, two people, and then we’ll say, “All right, what are our analytics on these?” And then try to find that sweet spot between: these are the people we want to be seeing this, and this is the amount of people that are actually clicking through to where we want them to go.
C&E: What does getting an advocacy client onto TikTok look like?
Gegenheimer: We’re working with a client who’s trying to gain a little traction in getting some new employees [onto the platform]. And they wanna create an area where their current employees can share stories and try to recruit [advocates]. It’s been a really interesting project because we’re trying to focus on new graduates, and TikTok was just a natural fit for that. Gen Z, specifically, uses TikTok as their main search engine and news source, so it’s kind of a great spot to start, especially when you’re targeting people of that age.
C&E: What are the design lessons from 2022 that will carry forward?
Gegenheimer: For sure something that is gonna be carried over, which is already happening, is TikTok. Video right now is being prioritized on all platforms. Everyone’s trying to compete with TikTok and I think that those short-form videos are gonna be here [to stay]. They can be repurposed anywhere from Instagram to Snapchat. So I think those are still super important. They’re gonna be key for us moving forward, and I think we’re really going to try to get even more into that space.
One thing that we’ve been looking at are 3D videos and using AR and VR. I think that’s another space that we wanna tap into a little bit. It’s still relatively new in the advocacy space, but I think it could have a really big impact. People are on their phones anyway and having AR just adds to a really cool experience for people to remember and engage with. It’s something that we’ll definitely be looking at for future clients, future events.
C&E: How do you balance, from a creative perspective, a client wanting to be on a channel like TikTok or Instagram, which tends to be a little bit more fun, with the serious business of politics or advocacy?
Gegenheimer: I think the biggest thing is that whoever is giving the message, it needs to be authentic. If they’re trying to get it to Gen Z, maybe they don’t need to be wearing that suit on camera. It’s in a more relaxed setting. It’s somewhere where it’s more conversational. Overall, I just think that traditional aesthetic or that conventional way of putting out a video from a politician, I think it needs to be relaxed a little bit. When it’s authentic, maybe it’s just your neighbor telling you about this really serious topic that they’re passionate about, you’re gonna resonate with it a lot more. You’re gonna believe it a lot more, and you’re gonna wanna get behind it as well.
C&E: What’s the aesthetic that’s resonating in the advocacy space right now?
Gegenheimer: First off, I think it 100-percent depends who your target is and what platform you’re using. I think different aesthetics and different ways of getting the visual across is gonna resonate with different people. So we definitely take that into account. And then, in terms of something I’m seeing, I’m thinking, looking forward, 2024 is coming up, and I think we kind of have to look at Gen Z and our next generation of voters and, and look at what content they’re gravitating towards.
I feel like authentic copy, almost like an anti-design design is gonna be in. That doesn’t mean we wanna be pumping out ugly work or work that’s like overly complicated, but I don’t think things need to be perfectly polished and laid out on traditional grids. I think that almost makes it more authentic and, and Gen Z, they’re digital natives, right? So they’re information overload. So I think they’ll be looking for visuals that are cutting through that BS a little bit.
C&E: Is there an advocacy aesthetic or approach to design that can transcend generations?
Gegenheimer: There are ways to keep a common thread between [generations], but I think it is important to think about the platform that you’re on and create the ads that you know are gonna resonate with the people of the age of the platform.
With that being said, that relaxed aesthetic I was talking about, I still think that that can be applied to older generations and younger generations. We’re getting into this digital world where we’re on Zoom, and we all know, like, we’re wearing sweatpants on the bottom. So I think we’ve already kind of broken that barrier and that older generation is already immersed in it. TikTok has users of all ages, and I think that they are all resonating with these very authentic, conversational messages.