Morphing into a Shopping Channel

Tue Jul 21 13:00:01 2015

For those of you who block ads on your computers you will have not noticed an increasingly prevalent advert type on Facebook and Twitter, The promoted post for a product that promises ‘what it does is insane’ or ‘you will not believe your eyes’. I like to classify these as a: mildly interesting idea but really just not that useful or practical. They fall into the multi-function device that I recall from magazines and newspapers adverts of my youth.

In my past I regularly received gifts that were multi-function from relatives, to be honest it was always a certain relative and their fascination with magazines such as Best Buy. I once had a barbecue fork/knife set that had only one handle that you switched between knife, fork and I think tongs. But it didn’t end there as it was spring loaded for fast change of heads; or to fire the loaded tool out at speed into any nearby surface (including people) for quick mayhem using heated implements. Furthermore it had a torch in the handle for those of us who cook at night or in pitch blackness, for when better to stick your body parts next to superhot dark coals. Most surprising was the radio in the end. This was, presumably, for dancing, while nighttime barbecuing and hot implement ejecting. It was a multi-function tool of great incompetence.

The modern equivalent looks to be of slightly better quality but is essentially the same. Far from filling the pages of Sky Mall and Best Buy the manufacturers have discovered crowd-sourcing. Kickstarter that haven for the small, or divergent, manufacturer is increasingly becoming a SkyMall for the Social Media audience. Traditional companies have added it to their marketing channels and in many ways it is a good method. Think about it. You get a guaranteed sale, a fixed order for manufacture, paid in advance. It is ideal.

In the above example it is unclear what the product is aside from a watch, the wording suggests it is an amazing or divergent creation. But this is a classic misdirection. What is being offered is simply a custom made watch bracelet fashioned from oak (Whisky) barrels amongst other materials. This is a campaign one would normally associate with a glossy magazine. The marketing seems to be working as this is successful passing its funding goal by over 1000%.

Traditional manufacturers looking to secure (x) number of confirmed sales need simply set up a new company and aim at crowdfunding, and Kickstarter seems to be the magnet for that. How long before we lose the focus of divergent and emerging technology, of art and culture, for the controlled churn of the slick corporate machine?

Already there are Kickstarter Coaches, so even if you have no experience they can use traditional advertising and marketing techniques to give you an edge, for a price.

The tone of my piece gives you the indication that I find this disparaging and that the medium has started its inevitable decline. I really feel that its current zeitgeist is just another home shopping channel and that its days are numbered for divergent technology, already I think artists are finding more suitable mediums that fir their needs. It feels as if we have lost the truly innovative use of crowd funding. However what are your thoughts? What does the future hold for crowd-sourced products?





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