YouTube built fake Oval Offices to get you to like, subscribe and vote
It might look like 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, but it's actually a pair of sets made by YouTube for creators. Who wants to be POTUS?
Ashley EsquedaSenior Video Producer
Ashley Esqueda is an award-winning video producer and on-air talent based in Los Angeles. She has been playing video games since she was 3 years old, and loves the history of television. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband Jimi, son Wolfgang, and two very squirrely Italian Greyhounds.
Watch this: PewDiePie for Prez? YouTubers can take over these presidential sets
If you haven't noticed (though I'm 99 percent sure you have), it's a US presidential election year. We're about a month away from choosing a new president, and since it only happens once every four years, there are a lot of new voters out there. Some recently became naturalized citizens. Others turned 18 between the last election and this one. There is even a small percentage who choose to stay home on Election Day, because they feel their vote is worthless.
It's only natural to imagine a large section of those potential voters hang out on YouTube during the day, mostly because everyone hangs out on YouTube at some point.
But how do you get young/new/discouraged voters to the polls when they're up to their eyeballs in distractions?
YouTube Spaces operate in Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo, Toronto, Paris, Mumbai, Berlin and São Paulo, with more to open in the future. They're all places where YouTube creators can come to create high-quality content with the help of each space's assortment of production equipment, soundstages and workshops -- not to mention the myriad collaboration opportunities between creators at each space. The program is incredibly popular for channels of all types and sizes.
This year, YouTube wanted to give its US creators a chance to encourage their fans to get involved in this year's election. The Los Angeles and New York locations unveiled custom-built sets with political themes this past August as part of its Election Spaces Program, opening up creators to new possibilities for election-centric video. YouTube Space LA boasts a 360-degree Oval Office and a multipurpose set with a news desk, a press briefing room and a polling station. The New York location also has an Oval Office set, and adds a White House press room and a debate stage to the mix.
YouTube campaigns for home-grown election coverage with new sets
Approximately 50 creators are participating in the program this year, with YouTube offering additional support beyond the sets and equipment in the way of specialized politically-themed writing workshops featuring talent like filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and comedian Lisa Linke. Channels aren't asked to create specific types of content -- that's entirely up to each creator -- but the ultimate goal is to convince viewers to register to vote. Mitú, the channel we caught up with during our time at YouTube Space LA, was creating a handful of different videos, including a banda music video performed in the Oval Office set and another showing how easy it is to vote compared to a variety of culturally specific activities.
The most important part of these videos is that the viewer, a fan of the channel, sees it as an authentic and clear plea to register. If they trust where the message is coming from, and find it genuine, the odds of them taking the time to register to vote and get involved in the democratic process is much higher than if the message came from a person or group they don't relate to.
Most of the newest voters this election year will have grown up in a YouTube world -- any voter between 18 and 22 has likely been watching video on the site for half their lives or longer. It only makes sense for creators on the platform to want to use their unique voices to talk about election issues and events that matter specifically to them and their fans.
That enthusiasm and creativity will hopefully equal more young Americans registering to vote, becoming excited about their role in electing our president and getting themselves to the polls this November. And if you haven't registered yet, what are you waiting for?
Inside Google's state-of-the-art YouTube Space in London