Reading Rainbow Crushes Kickstarter


If you ever needed proof that a small, passionate fan-base is more valuable than a large, disengaged one, look over the rainbow. “Reading Rainbow” was a children’s show that encouraged literacy. It aired on PBS from 1983 to 2006 when it was cancelled. Last week, Levar Burton, host of  “Reading Rainbow” (also, Kunta Kinte from Roots and Lt. Cmdr Geordi La Forge from Star Trek the Next Generation) took to Kickstarter to revive the show as a web series.

The Kickstarter’s initial goal was to raise a million dollars in about 40 days. They raised that amount in 24 hours. As of this writing, they have raised $3,279,000 and have increased their goal to $5,000,000.

Here are some tips marketers can learn from Reading Rainbow’s Kickstarter Success.

It Helps to Have a Cause

Reading Rainbow isn’t just an entertaining show. It’s an entertaining show that’s trying to make the world a better place. By encouraging kids to learn to read and love reading, Reading Rainbow tugs at the heartstrings and inspires its fans to take action.

Lay it All on the Line

Perhaps the most powerful portion of Reading Rainbow’s campaign was the video they posted of host Levar Burton breaking down in tears as they crossed the $1 million mark. The video was emotionally powerful and served to both engage and connect those who had already donated, while also building even more buzz for the project. If you want to build a connection with your audience, you need to put your own heart and emotion in front of your fans.


Remember that scene in Mad Men where Don Draper pitches a campaign for a slide projector? He talks about the power of nostalgia. Nostalgia is a very, very powerful emotion for many people. Reading Rainbow was a childhood staple for millions of children for over two decades. Now that many of those children are adults with steady jobs and fond memories of the show, they were more than happy to pitch in to help bring it back. They want their own children to enjoy Reading Rainbow the way they did in their own childhoods.