Are Kickstarter Videos Infomercials for the Digital Age?


As much as web users like to pretend they the invasion of ads into their social networks, the internet seems to actually loves ads. The late Billy Mays, one of the informercial-maker’s favorite sons, was once a very popular meme and Oreos generated huge engagement during the Superbowl blackout. An argument can be made that Kickstarter is so popular because it’s one big infomercial channel.

Kickstarter’s premise is pretty easy to understand: someone has a great idea, but no funding to make it a reality. With a good product, good marketing strategy and a little luck, funding will come streaming in, then they’re off and running. In exchange, loyal backers are given perks that later-adopters don’t get. But wait, there’s more!

PandoDaily contributor Cale Guthrie Weissman highlights a few different projects on Kickstarter that give off the infomercial vibe. The Duo coffee maker is a fine example of the genre, even going so far as to show you the “old way” of doing things, and the creator struggling with other methods in a black-and-white video. Then a big red X appears, before you’re introduced to the better way.

And the project was fully funded. No longer do we have to dial the toll free number and pay the low low price of $ 19.95, we can just give the money to the Kickstarter campaign. And if the product or project doesn’t get fully funded, we get our money back. That’s a lot better than having a Slap-Chop gather dust in our kitchen.

As Weissman points out, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “It’s just bizarre that what is generally considered an outdated mode of advertisement has actually remained, and is perhaps even more prevalent,” she writes.

In many ways we have just taken our older customs and made them digital. We get our village rumours from Facebook, we use video calls for conversations with old friends, and now we’ve brought late night kitschy advertising with us. Users may moan about ads, but if we keep seeking them out like this then we’re really just creating the demand and marketers are providing the supply.

Featured image credit: michale

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