When I started this blog my intention was to assist the freelance video creative in identifying the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of online video contests. I think I have done that so far by sharing some of my experiences and some from fellow freelancers in the industry.
Todays blog post will help identify between the contest types. It will provide an invaluable measuring stick by which to judge the contests you should/should not enter as a freelance creative. I will share information that stratifies the contests, so that from the very start before you even think about a story-board or a prop list, you can make better decisions for your freelance business.
There are currently three (3) basic types of online contests being executed world wide.
Yes, there is also an entire industry of content portals on the web who require you to upload your content to their specific site. They run programs and contests within their site with a myriad of bells and whistles and community perks which rarely translate into real cash. They are invariably always bottom dollar when it comes to remunerating the creative (for if.net people that means ‘getting paid’). But we are not going to talk about these since none that I know of offer the kind of money/opportunities offered by the brand run contests.
CONTEST TYPE 1: The Social Networking Contest
In this type of contest the hopeful creative is thrown into the hellish abyss of the campaign black hole. A spinning, whirling, festering nightmare that ultimately vomits the bones and leather boots of all contestants except for the one with the most social contacts on the web. The creative (and I use the word lightly) who is best hooked up with Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, etc. is the type of Einstein who regularly prevails. These contests rarely yield the kind of content that the brand heretofore has used to market itself. It matters little though, since the content will not be used much (if at all) by the brand, and the 5,000,000 views/hits on the videos was well worth the $50K cost to administrate the contest. Past and current examples of this type of contest are: LG’s “Life Is Good When…”, HP’s “You on You”, Post It Note’s, “You Stuck It Where” etc. etc.
READ THE RULES people. When it states that the finalists and the winners will be chosen solely as a result of an internet vote, BELIEVE IT!!!!!, and RUN as fast as your video equipment will allow.
But please do not be fooled. If you win one of these contests, it is not necessarily a feather in the cap of your resume. Any future industry contact you represent yourself to, will know darn well the nature of that high profile contest. It could hurt you more than help you. I personally avoid these contests like the plague.
I am toying with one scenario however where I may engage this type of contest. It will be the subject of a future post.
CONTEST TYPE 2: The Social Network / Content driven contest.
In this contest type the brand itself chooses it’s the finalists before inevitably turning the final phase over to the voting public. This contest type is a morph of the Social Network (S.N.) contest and the Content Driven type. Along with it comes some liability, and legit opportunity for the serious freelance creative to showcase talent and find respect in the Ad World (and a good measure of animosity and disdain thereto). In this call for content, the brand does in fact care what is created. These branding contests tend to give increased direction relating to required elements, and the brand usually lists an intent to broadcast the winning creative in some medium or other. They very often will post strict guidelines on logo, tagline, brand graphics, etc. In this scenario, the creative has a legit chance to have major players in the advertising world inspect his/her creative wares and to be judged against industry standards. If a creative emerges as a finalist in this type of contest, it is definitely a kudo to be included on the resume.
At this juncture however, we again have a problem. Once the finalists have been chosen and the brand is comfortable with any/all of the five spots, the brand then turns the 5 or so videos over to an internet voting phase. Once again, all bets are off and the video to prevail will be the result of the best marketing campaign, not necessarily the best creative for the job. In an imperfect world, this is a type of contest where a self respecting creative can find some satisfaction and respect and even some money. Some brands like Doritos for example, regularly award all it’s ‘finalists’ generous money wether or not they go on to be the ultimate winner. Doritos has awarded 10K to 25K to all five finalists every year it has run it’s contest. Another contest is the recent Butterfinger model where all 4 finalists will be chosen by the brand itself before being sent off to S.N. Valhalla. So yes, in my opinion, there are good reasons to enter these types of contests, but also reasons to be cautious.
Here is a link to a Butterfinger sub I created, but discovered too late I had broken the rules by using minors as actors. So I will not be able to submit this vid. Boo hoo….I’m so professional.
CONTEST TYPE 3: The Content Driven Contest.
In a perfect world, this would be the only type of contest allowed on the internet, ha ha ha ha……..
Eh hem, Again, I fully understand the reason for the S.N. contest model and the perfect sense it makes for brands to run them, but the VIDEO CONTEST KING exists to educate freelancers and give them information relating to the best career opportunities possible. There, I said it once more for those who are still not ‘getting‘ what the VCK is all about.
As I was saying. The Content Driven Contest model is the best opportunity out there for the freelance producing creative. In this model, there is no ‘public’ voting for the finalists and winners. The brand itself chooses all of the finalists and all of the winners. CareerBuilder.com recently ran one of these that offered 100k for first place, and 50K for second place. Career Builder will have it’s own production company reproduce the winning content to ready it for slick top notch SuperBowl play in Feb. 2010. Career Builder is looking for ‘ideas’ people. TaxSlayer.com runs an annual contest with a 25K prize where they choose the content. Giordano Roast Beef ran a contest with only a 4K prize. Yes, I submitted to it. Was it huge money? NO. Was it the type of contest model I respect? You betcha.
These brands are conducting business effectively in the same fashion as ad agencies world wide…everyday of the week, from San Francisco, to Madison Avenue to Tokyo…….and they are including the freelance producer in thier decision making process. By now you should guess that I am excited with the prevalent trend in the industry.
Here is a link to one of the finalists to the Career Builder contest. He is a regular contributor of comments to this blog. His name is Giordany Orellana. I really hope he wins. It is an excellent spot that really brands the product.
Note: The views and hearts under the video is part of a Fan Favorites voting gimmick that affords the brand some S.N. but has nothing to do with finalist selection
So here’s the deal folks. READ THE RULES. If the rules say you have a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of winning the lottery, then spend your 2 weeks of production and 4 weeks of campaigning based on that information. But at least go into the contest in an informed manner.
If you don’t have at least 50,000 YouTube subscribers, don’t enter a contest with a YouTube based voting system with your measly 500 fans.
If you are a serious creative seeking respect from the advertising world, don’t enter the contests that don’t give a crap about your intellectual property.
But hey, if you are a YouTube video personality with 100,000 subscribers, all of whom love to hear how you wake up every morning and which part of your anatomy you clothe first, then shoot away and take your S.N. payday. The rest of us will have to find our contests elsewhere.