Veronica Mars Returns: The Epitome of Fan Engagement


Imagine your company has a new initiative that they need funding for. Where would they get the funding from? Venture capital? A business loan? A government subsidy? What if I told you that there are brands whose fans are so passionate that they funded an entire $2 million project? And what if I told you that they raised that money in 10 hours?

On May 22nd, 2007 after three seasons on UPN/CW, the television series “Veronica Mars” was cancelled due to low ratings. The property, which featured the titular character, a teen detective solving mysteries in the fictional town of Neptune, CA, was a cult hit (fans of the show call themselves Marshmallows), though it never caught on with the mainstream. Rob Thomas, the creator of the show, wrote a film script that would have continued Veronica’s story, but was never able to get it produced. Flash-forward to 2013 and Thomas and the show’s star Kristen Bell took to the crowdfunding web site Kickstarter where they set a lofty goal of raising $2 million to create a film continuation of the show.

Now, if you looked at this logically, you might think that a show that was never very popular could in no way, shape, or form fund itself by raising money from the show’s fans. How many fans could a cancelled show have had?

The “Veronica Mars” Kickstarter raised $2 million dollars in 10 hours. It was the fastest a Kickstarter had ever reached that amount. In the end, the Kickstarter raised nearly $6 million dollars to make the movie. The film “Veronica Mars” was released last week to positive reviews.

What can brand marketers take away from this?

  • Fan engagement is incredibly important. A small, impassioned fan-base can be more valuable than a large indifferent one. Can you imagine the fans of “Two-and-a-Half Men” getting together to raise $6 Million to make a film? While that show has a much larger fan base, they are far less engaged than smaller properties like “Veronica Mars,” and far less likely to invest time and money with the property.
  • To that end, it may be time to get a more advanced metric to measure your fan base. Is your fan base a mile wide but only a few inches deep? You need to know this information so you can take appropriate action. This is why engagement statistics matter.
  • Media is changing. Obviously you know that YouTube is popular and podcasting is a thing, but do you really? “Veronica Mars” was released in theaters, and on the same day, made available for digital download and streaming. More and more users are consuming content in new ways, from streaming video to podcasts. You need to do more than pay lip-service to new media: you need to make your content available in the forms your fan base wants to consume it in.