The daughter of Filipino immigrants who worked in sugar cane fields, Hawaii-born Candice Dayoan bounced around a variety of industries before finding a home in campaign consulting.
Her journey started back in 2009 when she was living in San Francisco. Dayoan had just been laid off by Yelp when she got a Facebook message from President Obama’s page, suggesting she apply for an Organizing for America fellowship. She landed the unpaid gig, and was put in charge of organizing two congressional districts. Dayoan ended up meeting Addisu Demissie and Nicole Derse, who went on to co-found 50+1 Strategies, the California-based firm where Dayoan is now VP of Creative.
C&E: How do you feel about the AI tools that are getting a lot of press recently?
Dayoan: It’s a very complicated issue. The tech side of me says, that’s really neat tech, but the artist side of me is frankly pretty angry at the approach of taking copyrighted materials and building off of that. I, for one, think political designers should wait on using it until a lot of the legal questions are answered — especially on paid or anything that you have to worry about compliance or legal. I’m very, very careful that we have the rights to use [stock photos].
Another smaller part of AI, which I think is very useful, are things like Photoshop, Canva and TikTok — they’re all using AI to do some really cool things like removing backgrounds on photos and replacing them with a sky. That type of AI is really interesting and that will make tools easier to use.
C&E: So you don’t think AI could potentially replace campaign creatives?
Dayoan: If you’re running campaigns that have the budget, I think we also have the responsibility to hire. If you’re talking the talk about diversity, and racial equity or including more people from different communities, like the disability community, the neurotypical community, I think hiring artists directly is always a good idea. If you want something to look great, like a portrait of your candidate to look like a certain artist that is hot on Instagram right now, commission them. What’s really cool is it turns into this influencer marketing, digital marketing, comms marketing — you’re working with somebody from the community.
C&E: Can you give us an example from your work?
Dayoan: We worked on The Breathe Act and we actually did this thing where we hired Black artists from around the country. We gave them a prompt: How would you envision the world if you were able to live freely? What is freedom to you? What does the ability to breathe mean to you? As much as I work in this world, I would never come up with what they’ve come up with. That was worth it. We licensed it from them, but they can still use it. They can sell prints from it. They can hang it up in galleries. That’s something you just can’t get from AI. So if you’re tempted, message that artist. See what their prices are. You’d be surprised a lot of times.
C&E: When a candidate is running for higher office, how important is continuity in their branding?
Dayoan: We are working on a few candidates now that are in one position that are going for another. Sometimes, we have been with them from the beginning — since their school board race and they are now going for something higher. Do they like their original branding? That’s usually where the conversation starts. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Absolutely, I love it.’ Then keep it, and just keep it consistent — especially if you’re running in a small neighborhood and then you go citywide.
Now, if you’re going from city council to assembly, where suddenly there are tons of people who have never seen your branding, never heard of you, and you want a refresh, I think that’s actually a fine time to do it because you have to reevaluate the landscape. I think the number one part of the rebranding process that people forget is the listening process. Do they not like the logo because they don’t like the colors, or do they not like the logo because they lost with that logo? Or do they not like the logo because they want their first and last name to be featured the same now? We actually see that a lot of time.
C&E: Static image vs. video, what’s the balance there for campaigns?
Dayoan: As far as digital ads go, what is the budget of your campaign? Video is really useful and you can get a lot of mileage out of video, but you have to do a lot more planning. With digital marketing, you can see what works pretty quickly. And if no one’s really watching that video, take it down, put up all the static ads that people are watching.
C&E: Any other new tools you’re excited about?
Dayoan: Me and my creative team are taking the time to look at all the tools that have been launched in 2022. Adobe always has a huge update in, like, October, which is always the worst time for us to dig into any new tools. So I’m being very intentional about learning all the tools they’ve introduced over the past year.
C&E: Do you have any advice for managing creatives?
Dayoan: Make sure you have paid fellowship and internship programs because there’s just so much to learn from people who are new. It’s easy to be like, this is how we’ve always done it, and it’s good to have that expertise. But being exposed to not necessarily younger, but people who are new — maybe because I was an unpaid intern, this is why I have strong feelings about it — you’re going to learn something from them. Everyone has a different perspective. Somebody took a chance on me, so who are you going to take a chance on? Be the person that gives that person a chance because I had a ton of those people and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.