Much attention has been bestowed upon the growing Republican field as the clock winds down on next year’s primary elections. Part of the strategy of these campaigners has been their announcements. For example, Ben Carson announced his candidacy in a dramatic, Jobs-esque montage, which compared the surgeon to former leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. On the same day, Carly Fiorina announced her candidacy in a decidedly more modest fashion. Other candidates have given similar speeches in efforts to create a sort of tone and framework for their presidential campaign. Each of these announcements has been scrutinised by analysts trying to determine what they mean for each candidate. Yet still the first prerequisite of each these announcements is a cheering crowd.
Crowds are important for a candidate because, more than anything, they provide the illusion that these candidates are likeable and popular, which oftentimes is as important as actually being likeable and popular. This is something understood by the Adam Swart, the man behind Crowds on Demand. Crowds on Demand is a service that caters to those who lack the human resources for an actual crowd, but have the finance for an illusory crowd.
Crowds on Demand literally offers a crowd on demand. Let us say that you need to drum up some support for a rally that you plan on hosting. Getting people to actually rally for your cause is a difficult task and carries with it some tough stipulations. Instead, you could just hire Crowds on Demand, who will send a troupe of their experienced, professional actors to cheer you on at your rally, speech, slam poetry reading, etc. Becoming one of these actors is easy; the link to join the ranks of these clapping mercenaries is right on the front page of the service’s website. Crowds on Demand is not the only company to offer this type of service - according to certain business insiders, Donald Trump hired a service called Extra Mile to applaud his recent presidential announcement (the Trump camp has later refuted this accusation).
There is a comedic value to the whole concept of Crowds on Demand, yet it is difficult at first to pin down what makes this service so funny. Perhaps it is the fact that the service monetises an age old activity or that the people who would pay for such a service should be embarrassed they cannot get sufficient people to genuinely support them. That explains why Trump was so quick to deny the use of such a service for his own announcement – a presidential candidate should not need to buy supporters. The obvious comparison that comes to mind is online dating websites – instead of going to the trouble of going out and meeting people, users can pay a fee to be connected to those who best match their profile. As useful as these websites are, many people are simply too proud to use such services.
Despite all of this, anybody looking to create a startup can take a very simple lesson from this company’s success. Given the communication afforded to us by the Internet, irrespective of how ridiculous your idea sounds, so long as you are providing a solution to a real need, it is truly possible to commoditise anything.