Epic Crowdfunding PR is Not a Panacea

When Crowdfunding PR Can’t Prevail: A Crowdfunding Publicity Case Study

First let’s turn to our handy dictionary for the definition of panacea…

Panacea (noun)
1. a remedy for all disease or ills; cure-all.
2. an answer or solution for all problems or difficulties:

For years I’ve been trying to educate anybody even remotely involved with running a crowdfunding campaign that crowdfunding PR, marketing and promotion, while absolutely and positively critical to make crowdfunding success possible, doesn’t guarantee crowdfunding success.

This is so important that it bears repeating: While crowdfunding success is impossible without heavy crowdfunding promotion, there’s no guarantee of hitting a crowdfunding goal even with the most epic amounts of crowdfunding publicity possible.

Here’s all the proof you need: The J Peterman Kickstarter Project
Crowdfunding PR
As crowdfunding campaigns go, I’ve been studying this one with the curiosity of a perplexed scientist.

Wouldn’t YOU be fascinated to see a crowdfunding campaign that, by any and all natural laws of marketing, promotion and brand recognition, should be approaching $5 million in crowdfunding cash but can’t even get near it’s (relatively) modest $500,000 funding goal? I know I am. Especially in a case like this.

First let’s look at the J. Peterman name itself. If you’re one of the tens of millions of fans of the uber popular TV show Seinfeld then you already know all about J. Peterman. Seinfeld was the most popular TV show in the late 1990s and, to this day, Seinfeld episodes are watched by millions of people all over the world on a daily basis.

J. Peterman has been a media figure for years who never failed to score some of the most impressive publicity possible. That fact alone should’ve sealed the deal in The J. Peterman Kickstarter becoming a legendary crowdfunding success story.

Crowdfunding Publicity

But wait. It gets better. The crowdfunding publicity scored for this crowdfunding campaign is nothing short of colossal. See for yourself…

J. Peterman Kickstarter campaign hopes to make the ‘Seinfeld’ urban sombrero a reality
The Real J. Peterman Is Back, with Seinfeld’s Urban Sombrero and a Kickstarter
J. Peterman Company Releases Kickstarter Campaign Video Starring ‘Seinfeld’ Actor
J. Peterman Launches Kickstarter Campaign With ‘Seinfeld’ Urban Sombrero as Reward
The J. Peterman ‘Urban Sombrero’ From Seinfeld Is Happening
How a ‘Seinfeld’ Joke Became a Reality
Crowdsourcing Opens Up Fashion Brands
The Real J. Peterman Is Back, with Seinfeld’s Urban Sombrero and a Kickstarter
John O’Hurley and the real J. Peterman debut the real urban sombrero!
Available soon: the ‘Seinfeld’ Urban Sombrero

This isn’t even all of it. Google “J Peterman Kickstarter” and you’ll pull up DOZENS of crowdfunding PR pieces in news outlets and magazines large and small.

From the above short list, this crowdfunding campaign was mentioned prominently in The Wall Street Journal no less than THREE times on three separate occasions. The real J Peterman AND the actor who portrayed him on Seinfeld, John O’Hurley, got nearly five minutes of some of the most valuable morning TV air time on the Today Show.

Other mass media heavyweights like the Los Angeles Times,The Boston Globe, CNBC, Rolling Stone magazine and Fortune Magazine weighed in too giving this Kickstarter a level of crowdfunding publicity never seen before for a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign.

Here’s the kicker– none of this crowdfunding publicity made any serious difference. If a crowdfunding campaign ever went viral, this one did. This Kickstarter project got the benefit of sensational crowdfunding PR even before it launched with nearly non-stop coverage ever since. And yet this campaign – with just 12 days left – is not even at 20% of its crowdfunding goal.

How is this possible?

Simple; Not enough people want that sombrero. Or flapper dress. Or flight jacket. Or baseball shirt… or…

All told there are over two dozen different J Peterman perks up for grabs. Looking over this crowdfunding campaign is like leafing through a J Peterman catalog. And that’s a good thing!

The perks themselves are priced perfectly; from the very affordable to the very expensive. The descriptions of the perks have that J Peterman flair and the quantities available are set optimally.

Looking at this Kickstarter project from every possible angle this is a Kickstarter that SHOULD succeed.

But that’s very likely not going to happen. The J Peterman people pulled out all of the stops with crowdfunding PR and hit a new high in terms of the level of crowdfunding publicity scored for a profit-driven crowdfunding campaign. Going further, The J Peterman people did everything right when it comes to building, running and promoting a crowdfunding campaign. They don’t come up short ANYWHERE. And yet this project is almost certainly going to fail.

I realize it’s unusual to publish the obituary before the death itself but it’s clear that nothing will be able to save this Kickstarter from failure.

And that’s a shame. I always enjoyed the J Peterman character on Seinfeld and I bought in to the J Peterman style – in writing, travel, philosophy and clothing early on. This is a crowdfunding project I want to see succeed. Sadly, that’s very very unlikely.

The simple answer, which I also feel needs to be repeated, is that J Peterman can’t get to that critical mass of a sufficient number of backers necessary to realize crowdfunding success. Long story short; Not enough sales. Not enough people care about a wallet made from the same leather as baseball gloves. Or that sombrero that Elaine cooked up during a Seinfeld episode. Or the J Peterman shirt that, I feel, is priced very fairly at $35.

Crowdfunding PR succeeded wildly here. The crowdfunding publicity here is of epic proportions. Everybody got the message. The world knows all about the J Peterman Kickstarter campaign. But not nearly enough of those people want J Peterman merchandise. It really is as simple as that.

If I’m on the management team of J Peterman I’m carefully studying the public reaction to the Kickstarter and charting a new course to move the company forward.