Though voting in Gain’s huge, “Smell Like a Million Bucks” video contest ended just 24 hours ago, today the Barenaked Ladies announced Lance Merkley of Richalnd, WA as the winner of the pubic vote and the $1,000,000 prize. The announcement came in the form of a youtube video that I assume was pre-recorded. In the video, the wide shot cuts to a close up of the lead singer when he says who won so I think Gain had the band record takes for all 25 finalists. Or maybe they had the Barenaked ladies wake up early this morning so they could film this “live” announcement and still leave an editor enough time to cut and upload it.
As soon as the results became public, the entire video gallery disappeared. So I can’t actually link to the winning video. The only way to see it is in the Barenaked Ladies’ announcement video. So here it is:
SMELL LIKE A MILLION BUCKS WINNER: Prize: One Million Dollars:
There were several great videos that I was hoping might win this competition. Lance M’s was not one of them. I’m glad that the winner isn’t totally awful like many of the finalist videos were, but I just didn’t think this one was particularly funny. To be frank, I HATE cross-dressing humor. I think it’s a cheap “laugh” that usually comes at the expense of LGBT people. This might make me sound like an overly-sensitive, PC thug but the winning video portrays some (mildly) offensive, anti-gay stereotypes. Two straight, married guys put on women’s clothing and suddenly they’re overcome with joy and have to wave their arms flamboyantly and sing like a proud divas. The joke is that it’s hilarious when manly men don’t act like manly men. The second actor is so over the top that even the first actor has to laugh at him. I’m sure the filmmaker didn’t have any malice in his heart when he shot this video but the final product simply turned out to be in bad taste.
Here on VCN, the rule is “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” If Lance Merkley won fair and square you can’t blame him one bit for winning. But….I do think that Gain does deserve to get a little heat for this. They picked Lance’s video for the finals and they should have known better than to do that. That kind of humor just isn’t appropriate in 2011 and I’m sure there are more than a few people at Proctor & Gamble today that are embarrassed by the video that wound up winning their million dollar prize.
Finally, I have to make mention of the other controversy that exploded after the winning video was revealed. I had been following this contest closely and there are several entries that I really thought had a terrific shot at winning the million bucks. But Lance M’s wasn’t even in my top 5. From what I observed, he seemed to do only small amount of campaigning compared to the massive campaigns that some contestants ran. So as you can imagine, the results of this contest led to a huge outcry from the other finalists and their friends who suspected Lance Merkley and his team may have stuffed the ballot box using fake facebook accounts. But according to some facebook users who know Lance M, they say that he’s a Mormon and that somehow he was able to get a lot of support from “Utah.” I’ve noticed that in a lot of big video contests, finalists will sometimes be able to get a lot of votes and publicity from their church. So it’s a pretty standard (and often successful) tactic. So I don’t know if the guy cheated or not. But I think it’s quite likely that Gain didn’t even attempt to verify the votes here. Think about it…this contest had 25 finalists. The voting period lasted for 2 weeks and facebook users could vote every day. So I’m guessing at least 50,000 votes were cast in this contest. Could gain really have sorted through 50,000 votes in 24 hours?
I have seen so many vote-based, facebook hosted contests end suspiciously that I’m starting to suspect that it is technically not possibly for the sponsor to even tell where votes come from on Facebook. I think if you have 200 fake accounts you can vote over and over for yourself and no one will ever be able to tell. I have been told by one company that designs and runs these types of facebook contests that they can detect cheating. But the process the spokesperson described sounded complicated and I don’t think many sponsors would want to pay someone to do all the extra work of verifying votes.