Pentagram's new "I Give an X" campaign draws a parallel between the visual ubiquity of the X symbol and the effects that political decisions have on our everyday lives. Naresh Ramchandani, Marina Willer and their teams in the firm's London office developed the non-partisan, online campaign to combat apathy among young voters in the UK.
"Who gives an X about the price of beer? Who gives an X about who can get married? Who gives an X about the living wage, or how much tax we shold pay, or how much corporations avoid?" asks the campaign in a video manifesto over a combination of live action and photographic Xs – from knitting needles to crossed arms to the intersecting bars of a security gate – alongside 93 graphic ones.
Only 65% of people voted in the last UK election, with a majority of non-voters being young people. The campaign is geared towards this younger audience, inviting them to visit the I Give An X website, pick an X to download from the many typographic options and share as their profile picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #igiveanx.
The hope is that by living in social media, the campaign will awaken young people to use their right to vote and influence others in their social circles as well.
“There’s a disengagement with this election which is very dangerous,” says Ramchandani, a partner at Pentagram along with Willer.
Parties are campaigning with carefully scripted soundbites and very little emotional or intellectual honesty.
"I’m not surprised the younger electorate are disinterested – but they need to take an interest. Beneath the soundbites lie very different parties who will take the country’s health, education, welfare, safety and senses of tolerance and generosity in very different directions. For the new generation of electorate, it really matters to vote – hence this idea.”
The website invites people to register to vote and then choose an X from over 90 different designs, all made by Willer and her team, to reflect their individuality.
“We didn’t want to just do one logo, because we’re all different and each one of us has a voice. We’re fed up with people telling us what to do – we’re working from the bottom up," says Willer. A graphic designer and filmmaker who was previously creative director at Wolff Olins, she has created numerous campaigns for organisations with strong social messages such as Amnesty International and Macmillan Cancer Support.
Likewise, Ramchandani has spoken out about social issues, including the problem of forced evictions and safeguarding the environment.
Explaining why they made a video for the campaign, which runs until 7 May, Ramchandani says: “We thought the campaign needed a manifesto – an about, or a why. And it needed be video-based because video is most instant and emotive way to make an online audience care.”