Remember What They Did, a new multi-state campaign that combines original art with damning quotes from President Trump and his party, launched in Pittsburgh this week. The campaign, which will also have billboards in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona, aims to specifically reach young voters, voters of color, and other groups that may feel left out from the Democratic Party's outreach.
Remember What They Did was created by Artists United for Change along with Scott Goodstein, who previously worked on marketing strategies for Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, and Robin Bell, who is known for his public art installations (he projected "Pay Trump bribes here" onto the Trump International Hotel).
Goodstein says that he felt the Democratic Party has not done a good job of connecting with certain demographics of voters and wanted to do something about it.
"I wanted to build an opposition movement and I just didn't think the Democratic Party or Biden was necessarily connecting with the voices on the streets and the energy that's happening around police brutality, systemic racism, violence," says Goodstein, "and [I] wanted to do a visual job of connecting all of the energy and the issues with voters that may or may not have voted in 2016."
He says that he's seen enthusiasm from voters fall from 2008 to 2016, and even more from 2016 til now, noting that both the Republican and Democratic Parties have spent too much time on digital marketing, and not enough energy on reaching out to specific neighborhoods and demographics.
Anyone who's driven down the Pennsylvania turnpike has seen the startling, and often heavily religious, right-wing billboards decrying Gov. Tom Wolf or access to abortion. But, as Goodstein notes, Republicans are not the only people who drive and see billboards.
The Remember What They Did billboards feature quotes from Trump, often about COVID-19 or racial injustice, or other members of the Republican party, paired with bold art pointing out why Democratic voters should want to vote them out.
In Pittsburgh, one Uptown billboard features a July 2020 quote from Trump saying "that's going to just sort of disappear, I hope," in regards to COVID-19. The corresponding art is by Beaver Falls-bred, New York artist Nate Lewis, a former critical-care nurse. A close-up image of lungs serves as a reminder that the pandemic is a respiratory disease that can linger indefinitely.
Another Pittsburgh billboard in Polish Hill and the Hill District features work by artist Swoon depicting police brutality against Black Lives Matter protesters, paired with the Trump quote "a beautiful picture," which he used to describe a June 2020 incident where police forcefully cleared protesters so the president could have a photo-op in front of a D.C. church.
The project has partnered with Keystone Progress and other local organizations to help with the billboards, distribute posters, and engage voters. (Pittsburghers can currently pick up a poster at Strong Cleaners at 7620 Frankstown Ave. in Homewood during regular business hours.) While the billboards are set to run for a period of time, people can donate money to keep them up longer on the Remember What They Did website.