Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to The House of US as TikTok’s first all-virtual creator collective. It is definitely not.
And now? “We believe that TikTok could be a differentiator in this election,” says Jesse Stollak, CMO of Converse and co-founder of Biden-Harris political action committee The 99 Problems. He and around 35 other professionals from dozens of industries launched the PAC in July with the goal of mobilizing everyone, but especially Gen Z’ers, to vote Democrat in next month’s presidential election.
“We understood the areas we missed out on in 2016; one of those areas was young people, specifically Gen Z,” fellow cofounder Michael Akiko—a longtime artist relations manager who’s held positions at YouTube/Google Play, Atlantic Records, and Universal Music Africa—tells Tubefilter. “I think there’s been this narrative that’s been out here that Gen Z is somehow apathetic or complacent, and they don’t need to be talked to. I think that’s the exact opposite of how we feel. We believe young people deserve a seat at the table.”
Giving them that seat, Akiko says, means “meeting them where they live”: on TikTok.
@houseof_uswho will join us in the fight for change?✊✨ @nataliaseth♬ Said Sum – Remix – Moneybagg Yo, City Girls, DaBaby
Hundreds of millions of teenagers use the shortform video app each day, and The 99 Problems saw that a significant portion of these young users were already talking about the election organically, encouraging one another to vote.
“We know that relational organizing, peer-to-peer activation, is where you can actually get people out to vote,” Stollak says. “We believe that TikTok could be a differentiator in this election as it relates to mobilizing youth civic engagement.”
The 99 Problems decided to boost TikToker engagement by launching an all-virtual creator collective—the latest long-distance, political action-focused version of residences like Hype House and SwayLA. It enlisted Jade Darmawangsa, cofounder of X8 Media, and Ogo, founder of TikTok marketing company TheThirteenth, to create The House of US, then populated it with eight TikTokers who had track records of being vocal about voting: King Science (9.1 million followers), itsjustaba (6.1 million), thereal_tati (4.4 million), nataliaseth (1.9 million), samvicchiollo (1.9 million), vaggianna (1.6 million), maya2960 (205.5K), and alexsey (213K).
Over the next week, these creators will drop 99 Problems-sponsored content—made solo and in collaboration with one another—on the official House of US account (18.8K) with the singular goal of getting viewers to the polls Nov. 3. A handful of videos currently live on the account involve popular trends; one is POV-style, and another spoofs wildly popular video game Among Us. Others debunk Trump’s claims about the Black community and discuss the Constitution and equality.
This range of formats and topics is exactly what The 99 Problems wants, Stollak says. While all House of US content shares a central “go vote” theme, “we’re trying to be loose in the brief to give them freedom for creativity,” he says.
The House of US is also urging viewers toward the PAC’s other activations, like the Vote Plan Challenge, where people post a video of themselves publicly committing to vote, then get two friends to do the same.
@houseof_usMLK is typing… @itsjustaba♬ original sound – House of US
For now, the House of US and The 99 Problems are entirely focused on next week’s election. But “we’ve certainly talked about the importance of continuing our work,” Akiko says. “Part of the bigger conversation around this moment is people understanding that their vote is important beyond just the presidential election. It’s important in midterms, your local elections…So, in a perfect world, we’d love to keep motivating youth to continue to be giving, to continue to get engaged, and keep speaking to each other and uniting and doing their best to make change for years to come.”