Just 41 days ago, MercuryCSC, Distill Productions, and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS ) launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the filming of Expedition Denali, the first all-African-American attempt to summit North America's highest peak. Thanks to the financial contributions of hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts, the Expedition Denali documentary Kickstarter project has reached its goal of $107,500 and then some. On Friday, May 10, as the bell rung to signal the end of the fundraising project, 742 people had contributed a total of $111,125, or 103% of goal.
“30 days ago, we had $0, an empty Kickstarter page, and a trunk full of the best of intentions. It was a bit daunting to say the least,” said George Potter of Bozeman, Mont. based Distill Productions. “We had amazing support from NOLS and the expedition sponsors, and from the team at MercuryCSC. We’re humbled and honored to be able to go to Alaska and start filming.”
Now that the funds are secured, the Distill Productions documentary team is ramping up their pre-production planning activities, finalizing the unique logistical and technical resources required to film a major mountaineering expedition, shooting preliminary diary-style footage from team members, and training for the physical requirements of the climb to 20,320 feet.
“From the start, NOLS felt that the Expedition Denali story is one that has to be told. It is gratifying to see so many people step up and not just agree with that sentiment, but actually invest in making it happen,” said Bruce Palmer, NOLS’ vice president of marketing.
The idea to film the climb came together quickly, and the project team put together an integrated marketing plan in just a few days. The campaign's success was not carried by any one single tactic, event, or donation. Instead, it took a steady and coordinated pulse of earned, owned, and paid media strategies directed by MercuryCSC and executed by the all of the expedition's stakeholders.
“This campaign was a truly collaborative one that could not have succeeded without the terrific work of a lot of people at NOLS, Distill, Mercury, REI and The North Face. It was a big job and now the real work begins: mounting a successful expedition and then telling the stories that will introduce a new generation to the outdoors,” said Palmer.
MercuryCSC, Distill Productions, NOLS, REI, The North Face, and the nine members of the Expedition Denali team used their social communities, email newsletter databases, and other marketing assets to build awareness about the program with a clear message and call-to-action: "The outdoors is in danger. Donate now."
More than 5,700 Facebook users shared the campaign using the button on the homepage alone, and hundreds of Tweets and re-Tweets using the #ExpDenali hashtag reached an audience in excess of 550,000 Twitter users.
With Reddit AMA sessions, a viral Facebook Event campaign, field marketing with Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour, PR campaigns that generated mainstream media coverage of the athletes, social media influencer outreach campaigns, a small amount of paid advertising, a $10,000 challenge by REI, and celebrity endorsements from alpinists Conrad Anker and Jimmy Chin, actor and narrator Peter Coyote, and author Shelton Johnson, the amount of sweat equity employed by the team to achieve the goal was considerable.
“The Kickstarter campaign will allow Expedition Denali to live beyond its historical moment and inspire people to pursue their own Denali”, said Laura Swapp, REI's Director of Diversity and Inclusion. "This collective effort has brought people and companies together because we believe in the transformative powers of great adventures and recognize the need to tell the story."
By 2019, it is estimated that minority children will be the majority in the U.S. With the success of this Kickstarter Campaign, a big step was taken toward ensuring that those kids grow up to be the next stewards of the outdoors.
Photos for editorial use:
* The Expedition Denali Team (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2175278/nols/nols%20kickstarter%202.jpg)
* The Expedition Denali Logo (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2175278/nols/9bd48fd870095c4d7c126aaaf98719a0_large.jpg)