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John Hickenlooper

  • $26M million raised online
  • 900K individual donations
  • $29 average donation
Senator John Hickenlooper
Hickenlooper for Senate


Our team utilized John Hickenlooper’s unique background and quirky personality to develop an award-winning digital fundraising program that raised tens of millions of dollars for the campaign. We empowered the candidate to be himself in the content we developed and accelerated his grassroots fundraising by acquiring and onboarding nearly 3 million new supporters in a matter of months. In the end, we achieved a resounding victory for now-Senator Hickenlooper that helped Democrats flip the Senate.


Online Fundraising, Mobile Messaging, Digital Advertising, and Design and Development.

From Geologist to Brewer to Politician: How We Crafted John Hickenlooper’s Voice

To establish a distinctive online voice for John Hickenlooper that would resonate with Democratic donors, we conducted extensive research, including reading John’s autobiography, studying his speeches, and conducting a tone of voice conversation directly with the candidate. Our goal was to ensure that the messaging accurately reflected John’s genuine personality that has helped him connect with Colorado voters throughout his career. We collaborated closely with his campaign manager and the digital team to emphasize John’s humorous, approachable, and relatable nature through emails, social media, and online ads.

Our most effective messages centered around showcasing John’s endearing personality rather than focusing on political polls or procedures. For example, we highlighted his love for baseball and shared anecdotes about the catalpa trees in his backyard. We also incorporated engaging content that could only come from the candidate himself, such as videos of John playing songs on his banjo and competing against his son in basketball (with the latter going viral and generating over $100K in revenue after appearing on Barstool Sports).

“Authentic did a masterful job capturing our voice and raising tens of millions of dollars online. They were great partners and a key reason we flipped Colorado’s seat blue.”

Senator John Hickenlooper

Award-winning Innovation in Online Fundraising: COVID-19 and Email Deliverability

To effectively share John Hickenlooper’s unique story with a broad audience, we recognized the need to build a strong database of supporters. To achieve this, our team employed an aggressive acquisition strategy that leveraged Facebook advertising, Google search ads, and bulk buys to generate nearly 3 million new email addresses, raising John’s profile nationwide.

Maintaining a clean and effective email list was critical to our email deliverability success. We prioritized list hygiene by cutting inactive names, running deliverability tests multiple times per week, and carefully segmenting our list to improve inbox placement rates. Rather than keeping new names on the list for an extended period, we quickly cut unengaged subscribers to maintain list quality.

As the election approached and competition for inbox space intensified, we adjusted our audiences to prioritize recent openers and sent only our best-performing emails to a wider audience. We also segmented users who were important to the campaign and email addresses from Colorado to ensure appropriate and optimal email cadence across all segments.

Our program’s foundation was built on genuine relationships with supporters, reflecting John’s personality. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, we integrated empathetic, compassionate messaging into our program seamlessly. We were the first major email program in politics to ask recipients if they wanted to pause our emails during the pandemic, while still creating space for those who could donate.

By cultivating authentic relationships early on, our list trusted us — making them more receptive to our messaging, even during the pandemic. Additionally, we initiated a recurring thank you email (featuring a classic gif of John cheers-ing) to every donor who contributed via email, which was well-received by both low and high-dollar donors. The thank you email helped to strengthen relationships with our supporters, increasing their likelihood of donating again in the future..


Our team accomplished the goal of creating a distinctive online voice for John Hickenlooper to connect with supporters. Through our efforts in highlighting his genuine personality through email and paid media, we successfully raised John’s profile and established authentic connections with his supporters. We adapted seamlessly to the COVID-19 pandemic, integrating empathetic and compassionate messaging. Our dedication to maintaining a clean and effective email list paid off as our supporters trusted our authenticity, contributing to the campaign’s 10% win in November 2020.