Audible just ran the biggest video contest of 2017

2017 was a low-key year for video contests. There was no big, multi-million dollar, marquee contest like Doritos Crash the Super Bowl promotion. There wasn’t even a smaller, must-enter TV commercial contest with 5 or 6 figure prizes. In the end, the biggest contest of the year was kind of a sleeper candidate; it was’s 20 year’s of listeners contests. Instead of offering a few giant prizes, Audible gave away 20 brand new Volvo XC60s plus some cash to cover the taxes. Each prize was worth about sixty grand which means the prize pool was about $1.2 million. Here’s what Audible said about the contest:

Audible is commemorating 20 years of storytelling—all made possible by their listeners. To celebrate, they are turning over the microphone: inviting you to enter our contest and tell them why you love to listen to Audible!

They are looking for stories and anecdotes from listeners about how Audible has made a meaningful difference in your life.

The video you submit to the contest can answer one or more of the following questions:
• Which narrators do you listen to and why do you find their narrations appealing?
• What types of books, genres or authors do you enjoy and why?
• Where do you listen to Audible?
• How has Audible improved your life?

Literally THOUSANDS of people wound up entering this contest. It was a smash hit. But the judging style was kind of weird. A public vote determined a set of 100 finalists and then a panel of judges picked the 20 winners. But the voting was open during the submission period. So the first videos submitted had weeks to collect votes. And the people who entered at the last minute had no chance of making the finals. Based on the number of last-minute entries I saw, I think a lot of people didn’t understand how the process was supposed to work.

Even though the judging was kind of weird, Audible still managed to get some good winners. You can view them all here:

Doritos’ “Boldest Thanksgiving Recipe” actually looks pretty tasty

I’ve been running this website for a long, long time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Thanksgiving-themed video contest before.  That’s strange because the concept is just so easy.  “Hey Product X fans, tell us why you’re grateful for Product X and you could win a giant turkey stuffed with hundred dollar bills!”  Well, Doritos did run a Thanksgiving contest this year and they just announced the results.  They were looking for  holiday recipes that included Doritos.  I don’ know your grandma feels about side dishes full of orange chips but if I showed up and my Nana’s place with a Doritos dish she’d probably fake a seizure and drop it on the floor.  But the video that won the $3,500 grand prize actually looks pretty good…obvious…but good.  And I mean God Damn, this is the most obvious Doritos recipe anyone, anywhere could think of.  It’s basically just a taco pie with Doritos on top.  In fact, if you  you google “Doritos Taco Casserole” you’ll find tons of similar recipes.  But at least the video is well-made.  I can’t embed the video so click the image below to watch it on the Legion of the Bold site.


That looked sort of tasty, right?  I don’t know if I’d make it for Thanksgiving but I’ll definitely whip one up if I get invited to 420 day fest.

Mofilm goes “pro” and shifts focus away from video contests

The video contest landscape just got a little smaller.  Last week Mofilm officially announced a change that has been in the works for years; the company is getting out of the video contest business.  After Poptent collapsed, Mofilm was briefly the biggest and best video contest site on the web.  At their peak, they were running dozens of video contests at a time.  Usually these contests would all be tied to a specific, global event like Cannes or Lollapalooza.  Big brands like Pepsi and Walmart would run commercial contests and the winners got big cash prizes.  But they’d also win trips to the event that was tied to the contest.  So for example, if you won a contest that was tied to the Las Vegas film fest, Mofilm would send you to vegas to attend the fest.  On top of that, you’d also go to a ceremony where you’d receive a trophy for your work.

These events were amazing but I guess they were also pretty expensive.  About two years ago, I noticed that the number of fest/event assignments was shrinking.  I realized that something was up last year when they even skipped their annual Chicago/Lollapalooza contests.  By January of this year, there were barely and contest briefs on the site.  And now they’re officially gone for good.

The site is still chock-full of opportunities to make ads.  But almost all of the current assignments are labeled as “pro”.  What does that mean?  Well it means that Mofilm is basically just a middleman/production company now.  Brands post briefs for commercials or videos that they need.  Then filmmakers submit ideas and pitches.  The brand picks the team that they like and then they pay them to do the work.

The new process shaves tens of thousands of dollars off the Mofilm experience.  Brands no longer have to pay for prizes for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th place.  And they also don’t have to pay for trips to Barcelona or South Africa.

I’m not surprised that Mofilm made this change because they clearly had a set of favorite filmmakers.  There was a line-up of about 15 directors that just kept winning prizes over and over and over.  I once went to an event and talked to some Mofilm winners that were complaining about how exhausting it was to go on so many free trips.  I remember one of the rattling off a list of all the cities he “had to” go to that year because of Mofilm.

So if the same teams win all the time, why not just go pro and make the process a whole lot easier?

Because this move is going to kill the site, that’s why.  Poptent did the exact same thing and the decision wound up destroying the company.  I don’t understand why Mofilm didn’t learn from Poptent’s mistake.  Video contests attract fresh, new filmmakers.  Most of them never win anything but every once in a while you wind up with a new super-winner.  Going “pro” basically puts a wall around the community.  Brands will want to work with filmmakers who already have a strong track record.  The gate keepers won’t let in the weirdos and wiz kids that create memorable, fun, out of the box content.  So the videos that come out of these assignments will feel safe and lame.  Eventually, Mofilm’s favorite filmmakers will use their beefy new reels to get work on their own but no one will be left to replace those directors because everybody else gave up on Mofilm because their pitches were never selected.  So if you want to submit some pitches, I’d do it sooner rather than later.  I’ll be surprised if the company is still up and running this time next year.

Tongal’s Rock Stars converge in LA for the 4th annual Tongies!

Last week I awoke from my winter hibernation to travel to LA for Tongal’s annual award ceremony, the Tongies.  I always have fun at the Tongies but the team really knocked it out of the park this year.  The theme for 2017 was “Rock n’ Roll” and the nominees and guests really did get the full-on, rock star treatment.  We out-of-towners got to stay at the W hotel in Hollywood which was obviously very amazing.  But the hotel happened to be about 200 yards from the awards show venue so everyone was able to walk there in like 5 minutes.  And let me tell you something, if you ever want to feel like an actual rock star, I recommend you walk out of the W hotel and then head down Hollywood Boulevard in a tuxedo.  Everyone does a double-take as you walk by.  You can see from their faces that they’re thinking “ok, that’s got to be somebody, right?”

One of the great things about The Tongies is that the festivities are actually spread over two days.  My girlfriend, Carla, and I arrived in LA on Wednesday afternoon.  Then we went straight to The Grove to have tacos with a friend at a place named Loteria Grill (try the red snapper tacos!)  On the way out we saw Guy Fieri filming a cooking segment at an outdoor restaurant that was not a Drive-In, a Diner, or a Dive.  Then on the Lyft ride back to the W, Doug Benson walked right past our car at a red light.  Carla yelled some excited gibberish at him and he smiled and patiently listed to her gush about DLM.

On Wednesday night we were treated to a super-fab welcome party in Santa Monica.  Here are a few pics:

That’s me and my ladyfriend in her rock-STAR outfit.

I know it might seem weird that I took a picture of purple macaroons but those were some damn good macaroons.  And I’m a macaroon expert so I know what I’m talking about.  Seriously, we actually had lunch at the Grove just so we could stop at a popular macaroon shop.  (The ones at the welcome party were way better and not just because they didn’t cost $3 each.)

The next day we took it easy and explored West Hollywood.  (I found so much free drug paraphernalia!)  Even though the Tongies were happening 5 minutes away from the hotel, Carla and I were still about 20 minutes late.  So no one was there to scream for us as we walked down the red carpet.  But we still had plenty of time to drink and eat and drink and chit-chat and drink.  As we were sitting at our table I looked over towards the bar and saw a big, happy, familiar face.  It was Dan fucking Aykroyd; my goddamn comedy hero.  He was wearing a tuxedo and chatting up the girl manning the ice sculpture/shot luge like he owned the place.  I assumed he was an invited guest but it turns out, he wasn’t.  The Tongal top brass went and introduced themselves and polity asked what the heck he was doing there.  D.A. said that he actually DID own a piece of the place and he had noticed that Tongal had booked the space for three years in a row.  I guess he looked up the company and liked what he read because he decided to stop by and show his support.  He even asked if he could say a few words to the crowd.  When Mr. A got on stage, he gave a genuinely exciting speech about filmmaking and the need to respect creatives.  (He also plugged his Skull Head vodka but I would have been disappointed if he hadn’t.)

The non-Aykroyd events that night were also pretty fun and exciting.  The show opened with a totally bananas contortionist act and ended with a performance by pretty much the best Led Zeppelin tribute band in the country.  In between there were lots and lots of awards.  As always, the videos that won Tongies were all brilliant and/or beautiful and/or funny.  You can watch all the winning entries here:

And now for more pictures!

So as you can see, a wonderful time was had by all.  As always I had a I’d like to thank all the amazing people at Tongal who made this whole thing possible.  (They know who they are!)  You are now and forever shall be my favorite online crowd-sourced video platform.  Rock on my friends….rock on.

See you in 2017 – although probably a lot less

I think we can all agree that 2016 sucked nuts and that we’re all happy that it’s over.  But on a personal level, 2016 was one of the best years of my life.  I was crazy busy this year and some of you may have noticed that I’ve been blogging a lot less.  Well, I hate to say it but I think the time has come for me to retire (or at least mostly retire) from VCN.  I started this site back in September of 2009 and I feel like 7 years is a pretty respectable lifespan for a goofy wordpress blog.  Right now I have no plans to shut down the site so it should still be here for a few more years.  But as of January 1, you won’t see many new articles from me.  I might blog every once in a while if I get really worked up about something but those posts will be few and far between.

If you’re a long-time reader of Video Contest News, I’d like to thank you for your time and interest.  (Even tough I’m retiring from this site, I’m going to continue entering video contests.  So you never know, you might wind up competing against me some time.)  I’d also like to thank all the companies that have sponsored VCN over the years, especially Tongal and Mofilm.  Both of those websites are incredibly awesome and their staffs really understand filmmakers and their needs.

One final thought; I wouldn’t mind passing this blog along to some other video contest addict.  So if anyone out there is interested in taking over VCN, let me know!

Good luck and happy new year to all!

-Dan L.