Tongal wants to give you $119,000 to shoot a TV commercial for Seagram’s

Gotta drink 'em all! (responsibly)
Gotta drink ’em all! (responsibly)

I don’t usually post about individual Tongal projects but any contest with a six-figure prize pool is definitely newsworthy.  This week they launched the Seagram’s Escapes Video Project and it looks like it might just be the biggest video contest of the year.  (NOTE: Tongal doesn’t exactly run traditional “video contests” but their “projects” are close enough for me.)  Here’s a general recap of the contest project:

The goal of this project is to create a 30-second broadcast spot with a 15-second cut down for Seagram’s Escapes featuring singer, songwriter, actress Kelly Rowland.  Additionally, you will need to create 30-second broadcast spot along with a 15-second cut down, focused specifically on Jamaican Me Happy (Kelly Rowland will NOT appear in the Jamaican Me Happy video).

Got it?  One Tongal producer or team will create a 30 second commercial that features Kelly Rowland (one of Destiny’s Children!).  After that they will create a second, entirely new 30 second commercial for a specific Seagram’s flavor. Then the creator will provide 15-second cut downs for both ads.  So in total that’s two unique 30 second ads plus two short versions of those ads.

That’s a lot of work.  But trust me, Tongal is making it worth your while. Take a look at what this gig pays:


No, those aren’t typos.  One Tongal member is going to get paid $119,000 to produce these commercials.  That’s a serious mount of money so this project will probably attract a lot of heavy hitters.  I’m sure most of Tongal’s top tier winners will submit pitches.  But $119,000 might bring in a bunch of new producers.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the project was awarded to some mid-sized production company that came out of nowhere.  So if you’re an independent filmmaker and if you know a semi-established producer you may want to try teaming up with them.

Hardcore Tonglers may have noticed that this isn’t Tongal’s only active, big-money project.  Right now they are also running an assignment for Labatt beer entitled Cheers to Hockey.  The creator that lands that gig will get paid a total of $153,000!!!!

This is really exciting stuff and I hope we see more of these “Super-Projects” over on Tongal.  Right now they’re running the Idea Phase for the Seagram’s project but you can begin submitting pitches on August 5th. The Pitch Phase in the Labatt project is already open and runs until August 2nd.  Good luck folks.  If you win either of these projects, please save me a 12-pack!

How much should you spend on your 2015 Crash the Super Bowl entry?

The 8th installment of Doritos’ annual Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest is now officially open and accepting submissions.  But you don’t need to run out and film your ad this weekend.  The deadline is still 54 days away.  That means there are eight saturdays and 8 sundays between now and 11:59PM CT on November 9th.  There are no advantages to being the first person to submit an entry; in fact, it seems like most of the winners submit their videos at the last minute.  So if you’re planning to enter the contest this year you should slow down and take a few weeks to carefully plan your production.

After you come up with an idea you’ll need to decide what your budget is going to be.  When you do, keep in mind that the goal here is to create a commercial good enough to air on TV.  The reality of the Crash the Super Bowl contest is that most of the “fan-made” ads that reach the finals were created by professional or semi-professional producers, directors, cinematographers and editors.  Every once in a while a true low-budget filmmaker will make it to the SuperBowl.  For example in 2012, “Man’s Best Friend” made the CTSB finals, won the online vote, aired during the super bowl and won the one million dollar USA Today Ad Meter bonus despite the fact that it only cost $20 to produce:


Unfortunately, this is a better example of the type of video that typically makes the finals:


Sling Baby” made the top five the same year as Man’s Best Friend.  A few days after the Super Bowl, the ad won an online poll (that looked rather easy to manipulate) so it also earned a Million Dollar bonus.  As you can probably tell, this was no “amateur” production.  It was created by a team of professional filmmakers in LA and cost $2,700 to produce.  Here’s a full crew list that I pulled from the old “Vote For Sling Baby” website:

DIRECTOR – Kevin T. Willson
EXEC. PRODUCER – Jeff Edwards
PRODUCER – Jason Dennis
WRITERS – Kevin T. Willson, Grant Nieporte, Sean Gaffney, Kevin Chesley
1ST AD – Heather Chalecki
2ND AD – Andy Peters
DP – Bernard Evans
1st AC – Jacqueline Stahl
1st AC – Trevor Smith
2nd AC – Dustin Miller
MEDIA MANAGER – Shane Sorenson
GAFFER – Edwin Kim
KEY GRIP – Becky Train
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Jay Castillo
GRIP/ELECTRIC – John Christensen
GRIP/ELECTRIC – Armando Crespo
ART DIRECTOR – Jalisco Wayne
SOUND MIXER – Matt Burgette
WARDROBE – Kristina Van Dyk
P.A./BTS – Tory Nelson
P.A. – Patrick Phillips
BTS – – David Reynosa
EDITOR – Bob Perkins
VFX – Justin Folk
SOUND DESIGN – Bob Perkins, Justin Folk
COLOR CORRECTION – Blacklist Productions
SOCIAL MEDIA – Nate Daniels

Frito-Lay will probably receive around 5,000 submissions to the CTSB contest but I’m guessing only a handful will have one Production Assistant on their crew list, let alone two.  The marketing team behind The Crash enthusiastically push the idea that any “average joe” with a funny idea can win this contest.  But 9 years of history show us that this just isn’t the case.  Even the guy who shot “Man’s Best Friend” for $20 was a professional filmmaker who already owned all the equipment he needed to produce his ad.  And if you think that $2,700 is a lot of money to spend on a video contest entry, I have some bad news for you; Sling Baby‘s budget was actually kind of small.  The director of that ad, Kevin Willson has managed to make the finals 4 times now and some of his other entries cost upwards of $5,000.  (Including the 2014 runner-up, “Cowboy Kid.“)

When Doritos announces their picks for the finals in January they usually distribute an electronic press kit to the media that includes the budget for all the selected submissions.  Here now are the five 2014 finalists and how much each ad cost to create:

TIME MACHINE. Budget: $300:

OFFICE THIEF. Budget: $1,500-2,000:

Breakroom Ostrich. Budget: $1,700:

COWBOY KID. Budget: $5,000:

FINGER CLEANER. Budget: $7,000 (U.S.):


Even though Time Machine was the cheapest finalist of the bunch, it went on to win the million dollar grand prize.   However, that $300 price tag is a little misleading.  The director shot Time Machine with a 2.5K Black Magic Cinema Camera and two Rokinon Cinema Prime lenses.  That’s a very pricey set-up but it helped his “low budget” commercial look good enough to air on HD TVs all around the world.

Does this mean that only well-equipped, well-connected, properly-financed filmmakers have a shot an making the CTSB finals?  Well, I hate to say it but yeah….it pretty much does mean that.  The Super Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year.  Doritos isn’t going to pay three million dollars to run a 30-second ad that doesn’t look and sound professional.  It hasn’t happened in 9 years and it’s not going to happen in 2015.  That means that if you want to win this contest you’re going to need two things; a great idea AND the resources necessary to create a good-looking TV commercial.

PEEP THIS: Zenni Optical launches gigantic commercial contest

By now, most of you guys are probably putting the finishing touches on your Crash the Super Bowl entries.  But it’s never too early to start planning your next contest entry!  So you might want to check out’s humongous new video contest before your creative juices dry up.  The company is paying out $45,000 in prizes and if they really, really like your video, it might just wind up on TV.  The rules say that videos must be exactly 28 seconds long but I talked to a rep from Zenni and longer videos are ok.  In fact, they are also looking for viral-style videos that they can use online.  But still, shorter is apparently better in this contest.

Here’s a quick synopsis from the contest page:

Twenty grand. When’s the last time you saw THAT much money? Yeah, a long time. Probably like never.

But if you wear Zenni glasses you might.

We need your brain, at least the creative part. And in return you may just win $20,000.

It’s easy. Smack us with a video, any length (but you score points if it’s short), that says something outrageous about you and your Zenni glasses.

Let your inner Fellini run wild. Surprise us with a zany Zenni story. Or create something touching, you know, with little kids or puppies (please, no cat videos).  We’re looking for videos so good they might even go viral (saving us big bucks on an ad campaign).

This is a truly insane chance to make some serious scratch. We know, because our boss said “you guys in marketing are insane if you think I’ll do this.” But, after a couple of drinks…

Like I said, there’s some big money at stake here.  The grand prize is $20,000 and first place is $10,000.  Two second place winners will get $5,000 each and finally five third place winners will each receive $1,000.  And here’s the best news of all:  THERE’S NO VOTING IN THIS CONTEST!  That’s right, none of the prize money will go to vote swappers or cheaters or Internet celebrities.  If you wanna win some of Zenni’s cash all you gotta do is make a kick-ass video.  The deadline for entries is December 22nd.  So I suggest you go shoot a submission once Thanksgiving is over and out of the way.  It will give you something to do while you’re waiting to hear if you made the Crash the Super Bowl finals!  For more details, head here:


DeVry and Current want to run your ads on TV

Current TV has gone through a lot of changes in the last few years but I’m happy to see that their old Viewer Created Ad Message program (or VCAM) is still alive and kicking.  Every so often Current will turn to their viewers when they need a commercial for one of their sponsors and the network just launched a new VCAM for Devry. The great thing about VCAM assignments is that the goal of the whole thing is to find commercials that Current can run on TV.  They also pay you if your ad airs but just getting your work on television is a fantastic prize that can really help advance a filmmaker’s career.  Current and Devry have promised that they will purchase and use up to four :30 second, viewer-made ads for $5,000 a piece.  The deadline is January 7th.  Here’s a little info about what they’re looking for:

DeVry University is looking for stories of those who have studied and prepared and are now thriving in today’s and tomorrow’s emerging career fields, everything from cloud computing to cyber security to robotics. In this VCAM assignment, your challenge is to find and highlight one of these success stories. Showcase real people and tell how they have let nothing stand in their way of being ready for their future. It would be great to tell the story of someone who has forged a path into a career that wasn’t even around a few years ago, but is now doing work that is on the cutting edge in a field that is growing.

Since opening its doors in 1931, DeVry University has helped prepare students for the jobs most in-demand and it holds a high standard for the education it provides, believing that ‘the future belongs to the ready.’ So DeVry graduates could be ideal subjects for this assignment, but are not required.

Videos should be smart, credible, optimistic, and aimed at graduating high school students, their parents, or working adults who are seeking a career change or advancement. The hope is that your ability to find and tell a great success story will inspire others to get the know how they need for a new tomorrow.

Got that?  Devry graduates would be nice but you don’t have to feature one in your ad.  And you shouldn’t have any fake DeVry grads. So don’t put an actor in front of a camera and have them say that they went to Devry if they didn’t.  Oh here’s one final important note:  Guild members (SAG, AFTRA, IATSE, etc.) are not eligible to participate in this assignment so be careful when you cast your spot.

For all the details, head here:

Ecos Detergent’s “Get Washed” winners

Man, early summer is really a slow time for “video contest news.” I’ve been looking for interesting story ideas for the last few days but I haven’t seen anything that’s especially post-worthy. Well…I guess I could just post the video that won the Ecos “Get Washed” contest. Ok, so this spring the makers of Ecos “all natural” detergent asked their fans to create a commercial for them that was good enough to air on TV.  There was a public voting phase to determine the finalists and then judges picked the ultimate winners. Here’s the video that won the top prize.

Grand Prize Winner.  Prize: $10,000:

Apparently that was shot with an actual, old-fashioned 8MM camera.  The video kind of has a quaint charm to it but I was really surprised by this pick.  It’s not something that Ecos could ever air on TV, is it? I guess they must have given up on the “make our TV commercial” plan.  Oh well, it’s too nice outside to care. Two other videos won runner up prizes and you can see them here. Or you could just go for a walk around the block. I recommend the latter option.