How do we actually reach every community?

That’s one of the big questions we wanted to address with the Dr. Asif Mahmood campaign for lieutenant governor of California.

Asif is a truly unique candidate in American politics. It’s rare for the name on the ballot to be Pakistani or Muslim, and, if he’s elected, Asif will be the first Muslim to hold statewide office in the history of the United States.

Asif and his campaign are committed to reaching communities too often ignored by conventional political communication: Pakistani and Arab communities.

We can’t expect a single iftar meal during Ramadan, or a quick photo-op at a Pakistani association to actually engage with an entire community of people. Many campaigns talk about inclusion: Asif’s campaign made it a priority to take action and to do it authentically.

We looked at how to best communicate with people in California who would be passionate about Asif’s campaign, but might miss out on the usual playbook of voter engagement. That led to the creation of targeted ads in Arabic and Urdu.

Asif Mahmood Ads

These ads — written with Asif’s help in Arabic and Urdu — focus on the potential of Asif becoming the first Muslim and first doctor to serve as California’s lieutenant governor.

We wanted to emphasize aspects of Asif’s campaign that matter to all Californians, but in this community’s native languages. The ads ran on Facebook and targeted an audience of Arabic and Urdu speakers in California.

The ads direct supporters to a landing page focused on the issues Asif is fighting for and redirect to an Act Blue donation page in Arabic and Urdu, respectively. They also feature a “Preferred language” option, allowing those who prefer English to receive Asif’s regular emails, while those more comfortable with Arabic or Urdu receive tailored monthly updates in their language of choice.

Asif Mahmood Landing Pages

The feedback has been phenomenal: we doubled our Facebook followers and garnered hundreds of new signups on Supporters have been asking how to get involved with the campaign — often, they are people we don’t see engaged in the political process.

When building these ads, the signup and donation pages — all in Arabic and Urdu — Revolution Messaging worked with Blue State Digital to ensure Arabic text displayed correctly in all fields, which was uncharted territory for both our firm and the platform.

Our country is filled with diverse people of all backgrounds, and part of running truly progressive campaigns is engaging with every community. Speaking English fluently isn’t a prerequisite for getting involved in a campaign or caring about improving your community. Ignoring those communities and assuming they’ll vote for your campaign without any sort of engagement is a mistake.

The goal of this initiative was to treat every Californian with dignity and respect, including getting to know them and expanding the narrow view of digital communications beyond English-speaking communities, including immigrants, non-native speakers and more communities of color. In the age of the Trump administration, this is one unique but powerful way to resist alongside our Arabic and Urdu-speaking brothers and sisters.