Tunheim executed a socially-driven grassroots campaign to prevent a liquor excise tax increase.
In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature began the session with a projected $1.1 billion budget deficit. The DFL-controlled legislature proposed raising revenue through various tax increases to close the budget deficit, including a proposed increase in the state’s liquor excise tax. Raising the liquor tax started to be considered more seriously late into the legislative session — being included in the House DFL budget plan.
The situation called for a compelling plan of action to avoid raising the tax, allowing Tunheim to exercise a rapid-response, social media-driven grassroots campaign.
Tunheim’s objective was to increase awareness of the negative impact of a tax increase, generate significant opposition to the increase, encourage stakeholders to directly message key members of the state’s legislative leadership, including the tax committee chairs and Gov. Mark Dayton, and to ultimately prevent a tax increase from passing into law.
Humorous and engaging internet “memes” were leveraged to increase online supporters and drive them to take action to oppose the tax increase, using supporting facts, direct copy like “Stop the Beer Tax Now!” and custom hashtags like #NoMnBeerTax. As more grassroots supporters gathered through targeted Facebook advertising, a change.org petition circulated as a vehicle for supporters to voice opposition to the tax increase directly to lawmakers.
Within only three weeks, Tunheim created a truly viral, grassroots campaign that engaged and united supporters to defeat an increased liquor excise tax. The Facebook page garnered more than 450 likes and reached 38,000 people; the campaign’s Twitter channel generated 131 followers with a reach of more than 11,000. The campaign saw an excess of 14.9 million impressions through ads and more than 27,000 emails were sent to the governor and legislative leaders.
As a result of these efforts, the liquor excise tax was removed from the final package of tax increases.