Lessons the Sponsorship Industry should Learn from Kickstarter
15th May, 2013
Continuing from Jackie’s most recent blog, which expressed the inherent need for an understanding of sponsorship in every industry, I wanted to lead this blog in a similar vein. The past couple of weeks have seen the re-emergence of the platform Kickstarter into the blogosphere – a crowd-funding site that offers entrepreneurs, film-makers, artists, techies etc. a platform through which they can raise funding for specific ideas and projects.
Until a few weeks ago, many were unaware of Kickstarter until Mr Zach Braff (of Garden State and Scrubs fame) launched a campaign on the website to generate funding for his new movie ‘Wish I Was Here’ a kind-of-but-not-really sequel to Garden State – find his campaign video here. Through the website, and by the click of a button, anyone is able to become an investor in Braff’s film. What is more, those willing to sponsor are offered some pretty hefty benefits – ranging from larger investors being treated to a character in the film being named after them, to escorting Braff as one of his personal guests to the premier and after party – not bad.
Within only 3 days, Braff’s target of $2 million was smashed. Of course this was due, to a large extent, to Braff’s extensive networks (1,099,497 Twitter followers) and celebrity pals who helped him reach this goal. Yet despite the project’s success, Braff’s use of the site has come under immense scrutiny, with many citing this project to be one of (soon to be many) Hollywood overhauls on the website – which they believe will overshadow projects that really need to use the site to create contacts and source funding.
Despite the Hollywood backlash, the success Braff has gained through Kickstarter and the buzz his project has generated; has led me to identify 3 things the sponsorship industry should take away from this case study:
1) It is imperative to tap into passions – Sponsorship should always be about tapping into people’s interests and passions. As a marketing tool; the brands and rights-holders that have the most success, are the ones that really connect with what the consumer wants and understand what it is they need. Braff was able to build on the cult success of Garden State and use the affinity his fans have towards the film to help fund a new project, giving fans the opportunity to join him in the films journey.
2) Not just about the idea – Despite the success of Braff’s Kickstarter campaign, an overwhelming majority of Kickstarter projects lead to failure. As Michael C. Neel’s research shows, the campaigns that are the most successful are the ones that are able to promote and leverage networks, exercise connections and generate as much buzz as possible around the project. In essence, this is similar to sponsorship – those that are deemed ‘successful’ are the ones that are able to utilise every aspect of the relationship at hand – not just rely on the basic sponsorship or ‘idea’ itself.
3) Corporates should learn from crowd-funding – Some of the best ideas and projects gain fruition from smaller, grass-root platforms like Kickstarter; and it is important that these projects are able to gain funding. Sponsorship should be accessible and understood by all; not just large corporates – the funding of such projects will in turn help generate an already stagnant economy. Websites such as Kickstarter also offer first-hand insight into projects that are succeeding and those that are failing – offering corporates in real time, trends within specific industries.
Despite the criticism surrounding Braff’s use of Kickstarter, the re-emergence of the platform has emphasised once again, the need and capacity for sponsorship in all industries whether big or small.