When the pandemic locked Whistler down in March, 2020, it took away more than a great ski season. It stole the livelihoods of a whole town dependent on tourism. I had been working on a big mountain piece as a personal cartoon project and the idea came to make it into a puzzle as a fundraiser for Whistler Community Services Society.
Thus began the See You in Whistler Project – a product creation and crowdfunding cartoon adventure that would ultimately raise $6000 for WCSS, helping fund initiatives such as the Whistler Food Bank, Reuse-It Centre and outreach programs.
The artwork was hand drawn in pen and ink, scanned and coloured in Photoshop. To amplify engagement and fundraising, I also offered donors a chance to have themselves drawn into the puzzle art. So several characters bear a resemblance to persons living. I sourced a puzzle company from the US to print and package the product, selecting a 19.25″ x 26.75” 500-piece format, with a relatively modest quantity of 300 units.
The Crowdfunding and Marketing Campaign was launched on Indiegogo to raise funds and organize donations, (this platform allows for a charitable donation component, where rival Kickstarter does not) Selecting the platform was just the first step in making it a success. I launched the See You in Whistler Puzzle just like a client project, with a staged marketing campaign that included:
- Fundraising Video
- Press Releases
- Facebook Ads
- DM Postcard Campaign
- Email Blasts
- Neighbourhood posters
The Facebook Ad Campaign was very modest – I invested $160 in three ads targeted to Whistler locals and Vancouverites interested in skiing, outdoor recreation and jigsaw puzzles. For that investment I received 14,749 impressions to 9116 people, resulting in 169 clicks and $923 in sales.
My campaign was picked up with earned media in the Pique Newsmagazine, Mountain Life Media Whistler FM and Mountain FM.
Ultimately the Campaign Succeeded and the puzzle run sold out, which is a good thing… because while 300 puzzles may not seem like a lot, a full pallet sure takes up a lot of studio space!
I fulfilled the campaign myself, selecting Canada Post as my shipper, packing and printing labels in the studio. Puzzles shipped as far as Australia, Mexico and the UK. Recipients sent me photos of themselves posign with the puzzle, or working on it with family and friends.
This was a very satisfying campaign and learning experience, giving me more insight into product development, production, customs, shipping and fulfillment.
But the most fulfilling part of the process was dropping off a giant puzzle-piece cheque, knowing that this wacky creative project had made a bit of an impact for the resort town that has given me so much.