State Policy Network
Washington Policy Center’s ‘Free Markets Destroy’ campaign educates young people about the power of the free market

Socialism is growing in popularity, especially among young Americans. With 49% favoring socialism, it’s more important than ever to educate these young audiences about the importance, power, and benefits of the free market. To show young people how markets can help us build a better world, the Washington Policy Center launched a creative campaign that turns traditional messaging on its head. It’s called “Free Markets Destroy.”

SPN: Tell us about the project.

Washington Policy Center: Free Markets Destroy is a first-of-its-kind marketing campaign highlighting the power of the marketplace to destroy society’s worst problems and improve our lives. Young Americans are deeply skeptical of messages promoting capitalism and free markets. An increasing number of Millennials and Generation Z are open to socialism and socialist-type policies. They want change. They want to destroy what’s broken and replace it with something better. The irony is, that’s exactly what the free market does.

If you want to move fast and change things, the free market is the proven way to go. Free Markets Destroy highlights this creative destruction. Almost all of our marketing efforts focus on social media channels, where our target audience of 18 to 34-year-olds are most active.

SPN: How did you come up with this idea?

Washington Policy Center: The idea started with our board of directors and staff, who share a concern about the rising acceptance and interest in socialism across our country and in our state. Originally, we wanted to focus on the power of the marketplace to “create.” However, after consulting with our partner in this campaign, the creative studio Emergent Order, we reconsidered that strategy.

We determined the best messaging to target Millennials and Gen Z would focus on creative destruction and continual improvement. Young people are bombarded with rhetoric about how capitalism destroys everything, including lives. We decided to “capitalize” on this rhetoric to capture young people’s attention and demonstrate how free markets improve lives.

SPN: How has the media received the project?

Washington Policy Center: Media across Washington state have reacted positively to this campaign. Seven radio stations in numerous markets, as well as a TV station in Washington’s second largest city, covered the Free Markets Destroy launch. In an effort to gain further media coverage, we delivered “Free Markets Destroy Disease” masks to newsrooms across the state. One television news producer told us that he now wears the mask on a regular basis, sparking conversation wherever he goes.

SPN: How has the audience reacted to the project?

Washington Policy Center: The response from our target audience has been tremendous. Our youngest supporters understand the campaign and the need to offer something different. Older supporters, however, don’t always appreciate this messaging until it is fully explained. This difference in reactions proves the campaign has the right messaging to reach the hearts and minds we’re targeting.

SPN: What are the biggest markers of success, so far?

Washington Policy Center: Well, to get technical for a bit, we actually have pretty firm data to back that up. Social media testing performed at the beginning of this effort showed that Free Markets Destroy caused a five-point increase in total brand lift, inclusive of ad recall, abstract favorability, and action intent with our target age demographic. We more than doubled the average rate. As of November, the campaign already has more than 12,000 likes on Facebook, 10,000,000 impressions and 1,400,000-person reach, 1,200,000 engagements like a click, and nearly 1,100,000 video views. Or, simply put, we have data showing that we’ve been effective in reaching the targeted age group and improving their view of both our brand and free markets.

SPN: What lessons have you learned so far?

Washington Policy Center: We launched the campaign and started fundraising just as the coronavirus started to spread. The economic downturn soon followed. Despite these obstacles, supporters across our state have responded well, showing a hunger for messaging and efforts that reach the next generation. These supporters view this issue as perhaps the biggest issue of our time. We need to ensure we don’t lose generations of young Americans to the ideas and constraints of socialism.

We’re in the fight of our lives defending free enterprise. For too long, the freedom movement has struggled to speak in a language that young people will understand. Free Markets Destroy turns our traditional messaging on its head. So far, it’s taught us that our ideas have power if we can message them in the right way.

SPN: How can other groups get involved?

Washington Policy Center: Free Markets Destroy is not specific to Washington. Interested SPN members can partner with the Free Markets Destroy brand and launch their own local media campaigns. Each organization will have access to the names and contact information of those that sign up in their state, furthering their opportunity to engage and educate young generations. For those interested in partnering with the campaign, please contact Washington Policy Center’s Chris Cargill at (509) 570-2384 or ccargill@washingtonpolicy.org.

Additional Resources:

Other parts of the campaign can be found here:

Categories: State News
Policy Issues: Economic Policy
States: Washington
Organization: State Policy Network