“For what is life but a beautiful trip, to let your mind run wild, and just tick, tick, tick.” Those are words from the journal of Tyler Lorenzi, a 23-year-old explorer, adventurer, and general lover of life who was killed in a boating accident just a few years ago. Three of Ty’s friends recently created a documentary called “Ty’s List” wherein they followed Ty’s suggestions for traveling in and around the Bay Area. They’ve been crowdfunding the documentary through Kickstarter—which is ultimately how travel brand Expedia got involved.
For Expedia, helping fund the project was a no-brainer: they gained exposure plus what surely amounts to loads and loads of good karma. Since “Ty’s List” was already travel-related and neatly fit Expedia’s corporate values, it was a natural, although somewhat unexpected, partnership. The brand tied the project to an existing campaign it calls Find Yours, which invites travelers to “consider your story as yet unwritten.” As you might imagine, Ty’s story and Expedia’s involvement have led to plenty of good viral mojo for the brand.
The Expedia/Kickstarter collaboration is just the tip of the iceberg. Big brands (think: Honda, Domino’s, and Philips) have increasingly been attaching themselves to crowdfunding projects they believe will reflect well on their company in an effort to raise brand awareness in a less intrusive, less sales-oriented manner. “The customers feel like they’re working alongside the brand to make something happen,” explains Indiegogo cofounder Danae Ringelmann. From saving drive-in movie theaters to donating thousands of dollars to disaster relief, even advertising skeptics are having a hard time finding fault with the undeniable results that come from these brand-backed campaigns.
Of course, Google was one of the first brands to catch onto crowdfunding’s marketing opportunities on a global scale when the search giant matched funding for an entrepreneurship competition in Germany called the “Greunder-Garage” which was run via Indiegogo. In London, Canonical (the maker of Ubantu) successfully raised almost $13 million to fund a desktop-compatible smartphone model, leaving brands all over the globe wide-eyed at their ability to raise over a million bucks in the first five hours of the campaign.
On its most elementary level, the crowdfunding experience taps into the very fundamental desire of humans to participate in something that’s bigger than they are. When it comes to contributing, people put their money where their hearts are, and the success of a venture provides an entry point and a window into the social climate of the day. And, with the larger-than-life results these campaigns accomplish, that’s a good thing for everyone involved.