Brands Are Discovering Crowdfunding as a Marketing Tool

Aligning themselves with popular causes

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Since launching in 2008, crowdfunding platform Indiegogo has become known as the provenance of creative types, scrappy startups and charitable campaigns. But now, big brands are seizing on it as a way to align themselves with popular causes.

DC Entertainment’s We Can Be Heroes campaign raised more than $150,000 to tackle hunger in the Horn of Africa by enticing donors with perks like collector’s edition comic books or a meet-and-greet at San Diego’s Comic-Con. Save the Drive-In, a campaign supported by Honda, is raising money to help sustain the dwindling number of drive-in movie theaters.

Supporting innovation has been another popular theme. Philips recently used Indiegogo to launch a competition in which entrepreneurs battle to raise money for their product ideas. Campaigns that reach a certain level of their funding goals will be eligible for a $60,000 grand prize from Philips. In a less-competitive example, Domino’s Powered by Pizza initiative has supported such Indiegogo campaigns as a tech incubator and a comic book series that promotes literacy, offering gift cards to donors.

“These campaigns let brands engage with their customers rather than just treating them as a transaction,” said Indiegogo co-founder Danae Ringelmann. “The customers feel like they’re working alongside the brand to make something happen.” Brands can get customer feedback, and, starting Sept. 23, they’ll be able to create their own branded hubs through Indiegogo’s new self-serve Partner Pages program.

The potential for customer insights is why such campaigns are more appealing than just writing a check to a charity. “If we can bring more awareness to these campaigns and use social media to drive some of our fans to participate, that’s more powerful than just signing over some money,” said CP+B vp and creative director Matt Talbot, who helped launch the Domino’s campaign.

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.