For over a decade, 826LA has provided time-themed creative writing and tutoring programs for students across Los Angeles. These programs generate their funding through the sale of time travel themed products and books sold at the Time Travel Mart, 826LA’s very real brick and mortar store. These programs run at no cost to students or teachers to participate. In 2019, we were tasked with building a launch campaign for Time Scouts, their newest after-school writing program. In order to successfully launch the campaign for students, we would need to generate funding through sales of the Time Scouts Handbook, an 80-page book filled with time travel tips and writing prompts.
In the months leading up to the launch, we brought Time Scouts to life with a multimedia campaign focused on recruiting people to “Join Time Scouts.” We started by reimagining the Time Scout Handbook from exclusive store product to a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign. This change was twofold, allowing 826LA to scale production worldwide and create a tiered rewards system that encouraged backers to buy at higher levels and donate additional books to students in LA. To build out the world of Time Scouts, we created gear worthy of the traversing it. Ranging from Time Scout coffee cups to physical time badges like Prehistoric Petcare and Extinction Preparedness, we not only created great incentives for the Kickstarter, but a series of products that could be sold at the Time Travel Marts. If you are going to create a fictitious Time Travel program, it better have its own website. We created an online portal where future Time Scouts could enlist, purchase gear, and even find ways to volunteer at 826LA locations. Finally, we built out a social campaign that inserted the Time Scouts Handbook into moments throughout history, complete with Time Scout and 826LA social channels.
The Kickstarter was a massive success, shattering its funding goal in under ten days. By campaign end, it had raised five times the required amount to run Time Scouts. Even better, more than 500 additional books were donated through stretch goals, easily covering a free book for each child participating in the first Time Scout cadet class and officially making this the best timeline. The success of Time Scouts lives on beyond the campaign, galvanizing volunteers and sparking the imagination of students across Los Angeles. Additionally, stretch goal items became products that can still be purchased at 826LA stores, further raising money for the program. The effects of Time Scouts will echo as a blueprint for future projects and development across the 826 brands nationwide.
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