“G.I. Joe Coffee Company” Attempts Fundraiser on Indiegogo; Badly Mishandled Effort Fails

Talk about "mixed messages;" for some reason, the GIjOE Coffee Company felt "autographed photos" of unknown models in sexy costumes was an appropriate inducement for a recent fundraising effort. For a business that is purported to exist to help disabled veterans, the offers of clothing, sexy posters, and vacations surely confuses many. (Photo: GIjOE Coffee Company)

Sure, they’re pretty, but talk about sending “mixed messages” to your target market. WOW. For some reason, the GIjOE Coffee Company believed photographs, autographed by three unknown models (dressed in sexy, military-esque costumes) would be an effective and appropriate inducement for their recent fundraiser on the Indiegogo website. What the…? For a business that is purported to exist to help disabled veterans, incentive offers of clothing, posters, and even 4-day vacations to Costa Rica surely must’ve confused—and even deterred— many potential backers. (Photo: GIjOE Coffee Company)

This screenshot of GIjOE Coffee's fundraising "progress bar" reveals how far (sadly) the company fell short of its goal on the indiegogo website.

This screenshot of the GIjOE Coffee Company’s fundraising “progress bar” reveals it received pledges for only $610 of its $100,000 goal. OUCH! (Graphic: Indiegogo)

For Unknown Reasons, Company Still Failing to Reach Out to GIjOE Fans and Collectors An online fundraising effort conducted by the GIjOE Coffee Company (GCC) fell predominantly onto deaf ears recently, largely due to the fact that the fledgling business completely misjudged its target market and demonstrated a stunning lack of common-sense during the campaign’s execution. In fact, the campaign was so poorly handled (see HERE) that the company’s goal of $100,000 fell embarrassingly short—with only $610 pledged!

One of the more appropriate message graphics utilized during GCC's recent fundraiser on Indiegogo. (Photo: The GIjOE Coffee Company)

One of the more appropriate message graphics utilized during GCC’s recent fundraiser on Indiegogo. (Photo: The GIjOE Coffee Company)

We’re not sure who advised the GCC on this particular promotion/fundraising boondoggle, but we do think they should seek out more experienced PR counsel before attempting such an event again. The negative publicity and potential public backlash created from such mishandled promotions is too great to risk happening again. Let’s examine specifically what went wrong, beginning with… Ignoring Built-In Supporters Makes No “Cents” For reasons known only to the GCC, the company continues to fail to reach out to the vast, worldwide fan-base and community of GIjOE, Action Man, and Geyperman collectors. Hello? We’re right HERE! And there are literally thousands of GIjOE-related websites, fan forums and blogs that the GCC should be communicating with on a daily basis, leaving posts, placing ads, etc.

This unique 180-degree "panorama" image of the dealer showroom of JoeCon 2013, shows the convention at its peak attendance. However, the picture does not clearly show how few dealers there were. While quality of goods was high, quantity was LOW. (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

This unique 180-degree “panorama” image of the dealer showroom of JoeCon 2013, shows the convention at its peak attendance. Obviously, a business called “The GIjOE Coffee Company” should have a booth that is FRONT and CENTER during such an event! (Photo: Mark Otnes) Click to enlarge.

Question: Can anyone explain why a company with “GIjOE” in its name would ignore such an obvious and automatic base of supporters? Any marketing or public-relations person worth his or her salt should be advising the GCC to “zero-in” on GIjOE fans and collectors. Company reps should be attending ALL of the GIjOE shows, giving out free samples, and raising awareness of their products and charitable goals. Why the GCC continues to ignore “Joeheads” remains (for them) a nonsensical and unprofitable mystery. Someone stop the Madness!

As this screenshot shows, some of the pricier incentives were downright weird. Anyone with any knowledge of the high cost of travel for a "4-night stay at a luxury resort" can compute that once this trip is fully paid for, there would be little left of the original contribution to apply toward's the company. Whatever the numerical realities, it's obvious why backers were hesitant to contribute. But oh, look at that..."Shipping is FREE!" (Huh?) (Graphic: GCC)

As this screenshot reveals, some of the pricier incentives seemed completely over the top. Anyone with a basic working knowledge of the high cost of travel for a “4-night stay at a luxury resort” can compute that once this trip has been paid for, there would be little left of the original contribution to apply towards much else. But whatever the financial realities may be, it’s obvious why the public became reluctant to contribute. (Graphic: GCC)

Straying From Your “Core Message” Is Risky This is all very basic, “Public Relations 101” sort of stuff, but we’ll quickly recap it for those of you who are outside of the field. It’s very simple. Stay focused on achieving your stated goals and objectives. Target your market carefully. Switching marketing strategies in mid-stream serves only to muddle a company’s message and confuse its customers. The GIjOE Coffee Company made exactly those mistakes and blurred their message from one of compassion and support for disabled veterans, to promises of sexy girly posters and 4-day vacations. Such prurient tactics may work when trying to get 18-24 year-old males to buy a new brand of beer or an “irresistible” body spray, but a business hoping to support disabled veterans requires a more tactful approach; one that demonstrates a genuine desire to “give something back” out of respect and gratitude.

Offers of merchandise and vacations in exchange for financial contributions sent conflicting signals to potential buyers and supporters of GIjOE Coffee, resulting in confusion, hesitation, and low response. (Photo: GIjOE Coffee Company)

Offers of merchandise and vacations in exchange for financial contributions sent conflicting signals to potential buyers and supporters of GIjOE Coffee, resulting in very low response. (Photo: GCC)

Bottom Line: We love vacations and pretty girls as much as anyone (maybe more so!), but hopefully, the GIjOE Coffee Company has learned some important lessons from their recent fundraising flop. In our opinion, the best way to gain customers, supporters and contributors for their new coffee business, is not by targeting the libidos of young men, but by appealing to the hearts and minds of GIjOE fans, military families, and American citizens everywhere. Go, GCC!

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4 thoughts on ““G.I. Joe Coffee Company” Attempts Fundraiser on Indiegogo; Badly Mishandled Effort Fails

  1. Rudy Panucci says:

    There’s a pretty good reason they probably didn’t reach out to the collector’s community. There’s no way Hasbro is going to let them get away with associating any product with their trademarks without paying a licensing fee.

    It looks like this is just repackaged custom house coffee. The supplier oompany probably sticks the same stuff in hundreds of different cans to sell as “fundraisers’ for charities the same way that schools sell candy bars. Better for them to fly under Hasbro’s radar.

  2. Omar says:

    I was too busy looking at the models. I better go back and read the article. LOL
    Big H would want a piece of the action, monetary wise.
    Now then, if only they’d release female action figures like those models.

  3. kneonknight says:

    Can I get a leggy brunette grande? Errr, wait, I mean coffee, yeah, that’s it.

    Undoubtedly, the young ladies are lovely, but I’m pretty sure that this isn’t exactly the best advertising concept for this particular “Joe.” As for Hasbro sticking their oar into the waters, I think they’d be on fairly shaky ground, considering that the term “G.I. Joe” was in use for a couple of decades before our beloved movable fighting man came on the scene. As far as I know, Hasbro only owns the trademark rights for their action figures and related merchandise, and this company is in no way challenging their claims.

    Just my two cents.

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