A look at Gain’s Smell like a Million Bucks contest

In the entire history of online video contests, no company has ever offered a one million dollar prize. Yeah sure, two teams of filmmakers have won million dollar prizes in Dorito’s Crash the Super Bowl contest, but those prizes weren’t guaranteed.  They were bonuses for scoring the #1 spot on the USA Today Super Bowl ad meter.  So there has never been a real, “million dollar video contest”….until now.  On May 18th, Gain detergent launched the “Smell Like a Million Bucks” video contest.  Can you guess what the prize is?  Yep…one million dollars.  Well, 10 annual payments of $100,000 to be more precise.  According to Gain, this is the first time they’ve ever run with such a huge prize.  So why did they choose to do this promotion as a video contest? Well I got to do an e-mail interview with the friendly folks at Gain and here’s what they told me:

Gain consumers are so passionate about Gain, they love interacting with the brand in high engagement ways. We want to celebrate our fans and their loyalty, so what better way to do it than to run a contest that truly showcased our fans in a visual way – so we could see them, hear their voice and celebrate their passion for our brand.

But Gain’s not just going to give away a million bucks for nothing.  If you want to have a shot at the top prize you’ve gotta get creative and do a little work.  To enter, you need to shoot a video that is 60 seconds or less that illustrates how Gain detergent helps keep your clothes smelling great.  You even need to include the phrase “I use Gain and I smell like a million bucks!” for your entry to count.

All entries need to be uploaded to Gain’s Facebook page.  Gain will pick 25 finalists based on 2 factors: a Creative Score and number of views.  Getting a “view” isn’t all that easy though.  For a view to count, a unique person must watch your video all the way through from beginning to end.  And a person can only “view” a video one time a day.  So if you want to boost your view count you’re going to have to really promote your entry hard on facebook.

Next, Gain will pick 25 finalists and then they will open up the field to a public vote.  Whichever video gets the most votes wins the million dollar prize.  That’s pretty heavy.  If you’ve ever entered a vote-based video contest before you know how brutal they can be.  Every vote-based video contest I have entered in the last two years ended suspiciously.  It seems that a lot of people just can’t resist the urge to cheat…probably because it’s so easy to do in an online vote.  And with a million bucks up for grabs, I’m a little worried that this contest might turn into an all-out cheating war.

A lot of contest sponsors simply don’t care if cheaters win.  Apparently it’s just too much trouble to figure out if someone won an Ipad or a thousand bucks fair and square.  But when $1,000,000 is at stake, the sponsor has no choice but to care.  A Million Dollars isn’t an $800 Ipad.  If a finalist creates a bunch of facebook accounts and votes for his or her own video a few hundred (or a few thousand) times they’d be committing a MAJOR crime.  Seriously, it would be a million dollar fraud.  A person would probably do jail time for something like that.  But to Gain’s credit, they seem to be genuinely concerned about cheating.  I’ve read a lot of video contest rules and it’s amazing how sometimes some companies don’t even explicitly prohibit self-voting.  But Gain lays down the law in their official rules:

Any attempt by the Entrant and/or his/her family/friends to vote more than the number of times authorized herein, using any third party proxy voting services, using multiple names or e-mail addresses and/or any other fraudulent mechanism(s), including robotic, automatic, programmed or similar methods, shall give the Sponsor, in its sole discretion, the right to disqualify the Entrant’s Entry.

I asked Gain if they were concerned that one of their finalists might try and cheat.  Here’s what they told me:

We always run contests with safeguards in mind to assure the contest is run with integrity and lawfully. Gain takes such contests very seriously and puts many measures in place to ensure the outcome is legitimate and appropriate.

Gain also confirmed that they will verify the votes before officially declaring a winner.  So, it seems like this should be a tightly run contest. If you’re thinking of entering you better get moving.  The deadline is still 24 days away but already 100 entries have been submitted!  And some of them are pretty good.  Even the Barenaked Ladies submitted an entry!!

Ok, maybe that was shot just to promote the contest.

This is a pretty interesting competition so I’m going to be following it closely.  So stay tuned for updates.  If any of you VCN readers submit an entry, send me the link and maybe I can post it or tweet it and help you get some views.

13 thoughts on “A look at Gain’s Smell like a Million Bucks contest

  1. I’ve already run into a bunch of entries on the facebook “vote-trading” sites from people seeking views. I can’t even imagine how much time and energy is going to be spent on that million before the end. Assuming no one cheats and people actually just hustle to get views, the winner will have seriously earned it.

  2. I’m not touching this with a 10 foot pole. People will kill each other for a few hundred bucks even though it means they could go to jail for life. You really don’t think anyone will risk cheating if it means winning a million dollars? The person who wins this contest will be whoever is the best at cheating. Sorry.

  3. have u seen on ebay where u can buy likes, views, comments, followers, etc? A lot are bots I assume, but some claim you get real people voting/commenting on your videos.

  4. Duke, I’ve been doing a lot of research about facebook contests and I can tell you, cheating is possible but hard. If the sponsor calls for an audit of the votes cheaters will be caught. I am 100% positive someone will TRY and cheat in the Gain contest. But let’s see if Gain does the right thing and does everything they can to make sure the winner deserves the grand prize.

    Shane, I hadn’t seen that until I saw the story on HappyJoel’s blog. I had seen that you could buy youtube views and likes but the ebay stuff is really extreme. Youtube run contests are now 100% un-secure. There is no way for a company to monitor what happens on youtube so there is no way to catch a cheater.

  5. Dang, it’s such a shame that for a million bucks they don’t just soley rely on a judging panel for the top picks. Maybe give the submission with the most view/votes a secondary prize if they don’t get selected by the judges. That way you would still have incentive to get your view count up.

    Godaddy did this in their contest, a juging panel picked the winners and then the person with the most views got a nice prize as well.

  6. Danny, I checked and the only other prizes being offered are 24 laundry baskets of Gain gear for the non-winning finalists. I think that bothers me more than the public vote. If There were some nice runner-up prizes it’d be less of a gamble to enter.

  7. Great article! I’m shooting an entry this week. A million dollars would totally change my family’s life! Plus, I actually use Gain and love it!

  8. Hi, I’ve never entered any contest before but my family and I thought this would be fun. My 7 year old daughter wrote the script (she nixed all of my ideas) I realize that our quality isn’t top notch but we enjoyed doing it and it has been fun to get feedback from people. Check it out, it’s a modern day fairytale starring GAIN.

    Please click on http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/gain and click LIKE
    then go to http://apps.facebook.com/gainmillionbucks/pages/Gallery.php?video_id=221

    and watch entire 1 minute video until the END or the view won’t count.
    Make sure the video is for Mary B

    Thank you sooooooooooooooo much! Who knows maybe we’ll make it to the finals 🙂

  9. Hey Beardy,

    Thanks to you we found out about the Gain commercial…Katey says BIG THANKS! I was a little burnt out after the MashUp, but our intern from Columbia College; Katey had an idea and really wanted to throw her clothes in the ringer and so here is her entry. Let us know what you think and she’s a little behind in views so any help is appreciated.

    (By the way we had no idea stop-motion takes much much much longer than just shooting a commercial – lesson learned!)


    The video is under: Katey M.

    Kind regards,

Comments are closed.