In a bid to capture the "make your dreams a reality" zeitgeist of Kickstarter, American Express launched a new venture Monday that gives average people funding for their hobbies. It goes by the Twitter-friendly name: #PassionProject. Hashtag included.
For the next six months, AmEx will give 10 people $2,000 to give their side projects wings.
AmEx VP of public affairs Elizabeth Crosta said that the idea was fueled by the nagging question of how people define success. Crosta noted that after conducting its LifeTwist study, AmEx found that 75% of Americans believe "passion projects and the idea of pursuing one's passion is necessary to help live that fulfilled life."
But there was another motivator as well.
"What inspired it is that we love Kickstarter," Crosta told Business Insider. Almost everyone has a friend who's done one. "But that mechanism would be quite a challenge for us to do."
This is not a Kickstarter equivalent. There's no crowdfunding element or a micro-site.
Rather, #PassionProject will live in already-existing social platforms, namely YouTube and Tumblr.
Thus far, AmEx posted videos from charity:water founder Scott Harrison and "Working Class Foodies" creator Rebecca Lando on its YouTube channel explaining how they gained success from their side projects.
But right below the how-to videos — which will be updated regularly — consumers can send a message explaining what their passion project is and why it's important. In 120 characters or less. (It isn't 140 because the #PassionProject tag is put on the end.)
"When you hit submit, it offers three sharing buttons," Crosta said.
The Tumblr component will launch in a few weeks and will feature bloggers explaining how American Express can help consumers pursue their passion projects.
"If your passion is to take kids on an American road trip for the summer, one thing we could offer is Starwood [hotel] points," Crosta explained.
AmEx worked with Digitas on the YouTube experience. Ogilvy is helming the Tumblr component.
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