Remember Gain Detergent’s huge “I Use Gain and I Smell Like Million Bucks” video contest? Well the two guys who won the million dollar grand prize last summer, Lance Merkley and Doug Browning of Richland, WA just received their first payment of $100,000 from Proctor & Gamble and they did something pretty amazing with their winnings; they gave every penny away to various charities. Hey, I’m sure you would have done the exact same thing if you had won…right? This local news story has all the details:
This giant donation is pretty damn admirable for a few reasons. First, these guys were under no obligation to do this. I specifically remember that Gain prohibited finalists from promising to donate any of their winnings to charity. Second, Gain is probably paying these guys in 10 annual installments of $100,000. If I won a million bucks I’d like to think that I’d donate at least 10% but I know there’s no way I could just give away 100% of my first payment. I don’t think anyone would have faulted these guys for giving away 10% percent of each check they got. After all, they’re probably going to have to wait a whole year before they get another check! Don’t they have credit card debt or student loans or mortgages to pay off?
Back in December I was planning on doing an article about the “Best Video Contest Entries of 2011.” I did one in both 2010 and 2009 but I never got around to doing the 2011 list. The thing is, 2011 wasn’t really a kick ass year for “consumer generated content.” There just weren’t many big stand outs. So I figured that before we get any deeper into 2012 I’d just do a quick run down of the best video contest entries of the past year. But here’s the thing; these entries aren’t really “the best.” Anyone who has entered even a single video contest knows that the “best” entries don’t always win. So let’s say that these are the most notable contest entries of 2011. Basically this will be a list of the biggest winners of the past year.
In February, the Crash the Super Bowl finalist Pug Attack aired during the Super Bowl and scored the Million Dollar ad meter bonus. But you know, I never really liked Pug Attack since it was just kind of a re-do of the CTSB winning ad, Underdog. One CTSB spot I did like though was the Pepsi Max commercial, Love Hurts. That ad also aired during the game and won a $400,000 ad meter bonus.
The spring of 2011 was a very good time for a Lexington, KY man named Walt Arnett. In March his “Cash America rap” won first place and $10,000 on Cash America’s Cash Rap video contest. In May this video won him 1 of the 6 Mini Coopers that Dairy Queen gave away in their Mini Blizzard Treatment video contest. And then just a week or so later his entry won the $150,000 grand prize in Excedrin’s What’s Your Headache video contest. Interesting note: All three of these contests used facebook votes to determine the winners.
During the summer, Gain detergent awarded a million dollars to this video in their Smell Like a Million Bucks video contest. The winner of that contest was determined by a public vote so of course the winning entry wasn’t that great.
And….that’s it. Those were all the big contests on 2011. It used to be that there were several big video contests a year where the grand prize would be at least $25,000. And as far as I can remember, there weren’t any “make our TV commercial” contests last year either. I guess that sites like Poptent, Tongal and Mofilm have made those kind of big contests unnecessary. But a few contest entries did make it onto TV in 2011. In November, Triaminc started airing a Poptent-made ad entitled 102. And this cool Mofilm-made ad, “Chevy Runs Deep” actually aired during the MLB AllStar game.
Now that I mention it, Mofilm ran a ton of huge video contests in 2011. Each contest was based around a different film festival or arts event and each competition had an over all winner. You can see all of the top Mofilm winners of 2011 in this convenient youtube playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL42175AE837CCDF68
Finally, I think I’ll close out this list by naming VCN’s pick for The Best Video Contest Entry of 2011. This was an easy call. Top honors go to “Duct Tron” which won first place and $4,750 (?) in Tongal’s Stuck on Duct Tape competition. Not only is it an amazing on a technical level, it actually has a hilarious surprise ending. This ad wound up going viral and recived a crazy amount of love from the Internet. Watch it and you will understand why.
If I missed any big 2011 contest entries leave a comment and let me know!
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.
GREAT NEWS!! This morning I received an e-mail from Gain informing me that I was a winner in their “Smell Like A Million Bucks” contest! So I’m a millionaire, I assume! I was so excited I couldn’t even finish reading the e-mail. Let me go check it now so I can find out when and where I can pick up my first check….
…and I’m back. Ok, turns out I’m not a millionaire. Apparently I did NOT win the “Smell Like A Million Bucks” contest. Instead, I won a prize for voting in the Smell Like a Million Bucks contest. So what’s my prize? A bottle of Mr. Clean with the scent of Gain. But hey, a free bottle of Mr. Clean probably retails for like 7 bucks so that’s a decent give-away. Plus if I chug the whole thing maybe I’ll hallucinate that I’m a millionaire.
But anyway yes, Gain is giving away prizes to people who vote in the Smell Like A Million Bucks video contest. I’ve only voted 3 times so far and already I won a prize so they must plan on giving away a lot of bottles of Mr. Clean. So if you like free stuff, you might as well cast a vote or two. If you have a facebook page, it’s pretty easy to do. First you have to log in and click this link to “allow” the Gain Facebook App: http://apps.facebook.com/gainmillionbucks/
And then you can vote. But you don’t just want to vote for any piece of crap finalist video, right? Of course you don’t. There are some really terrible entries in Gain’s Top 25 and if one of those awful videos wins the grand prize, it’s going to be bad for the entire video contest “community.” If a million dollars can only get Gain a winner like this then why would any other companies want to run similar contests in the future?
Originally I had planned on doing a post about my personal favorite Gain finalists and my predictions for who might actually win. Instead, I’m going to endorse four videos that actually have a shot at winning and are also good enough to deserve to win. I’ve been paying close attention to the campaigning that’s been going on in this contest and to me it looks like these 4 videos are the front-runners. Each contestant has their own, interesting method of getting votes that I think can get them all the way to the top. But since I don’t want to divulge anyone’s strategy, I can’t tell you exactly WHAT these folks are doing to win. Just trust me, all of these people are really working hard at winning this contest.
If you want to watch and vote for any of these entries, just click on the images. If you’re going to vote for just one, I recommend this first video by Erika S. Apparently a glitch in the contest application caused a problem for this particular entry and according to Erika, she thinks she’s lost out on a lot of votes.
All three of these entries are very deserving of votes too. So maybe you’ll want to do like I’m doing and vote for a different entry every day. Voting ends on August 1st so you still have lots of chances to win your very own bottle of Mr. Clean!
Today at 12pm Eastern, Gain detergent unveiled the 25 finalists in their million dollar, “Smell Like a Million Bucks” video contest. But it’s not the “Top 25” that anyone following this contest could have expected. It now looks like Gain disqualified many of the entries that seemed like they were a safe bet to make the finals.
Gain was supposed to determine their finalists like this: each video would be given a creative score when it was submitted. The score was based on a 5-star system. Those stars were then converted to a percentage. So if you got 5 stars, your score was 100%. If you got 2 1/2 stars, your score was 50%. Next, Gain took the number of views your video got during the contest-long viewing period and multiplied that number by your creative score. So if you got 2,000 views and a creative score of 20%, your final score was 400. According to the rules, this was the only method Gain would use to select their Top 25 finalists.
So if a video could get 5,000 views, there was no way it would NOT make the finals, right? Even if a video had a creative score of 10%, 5,000 views would still give you a huge, final score. But real views were actually tremendously hard to get in this contest. For a view to be registered, a person had to log into facebook, accept the contest app, find the video they wanted to view and then watch it all the way to the end. But while it was hard to get genuine views, it was really, really easy to generate fake views. All a person had to do was create a few dozen or a few hundred fake facebook accounts and spend hours and hours watching their video every day for weeks. And it looks like that’s exactly what a lot of people did. But what those repeat-viewers didn’t realize is that it is really easy to detect that kind of cheating. The third-party company running the contest application is able to see where views come from. So if some idiot viewed their entry 50 times a day from the same computer, that would raise a big red flag even if they used 50 separate facebook accounts. But it seems like there were a whole lot of idiots in this contest because for some mysterious reason, most of the “most viewed” videos did not make the finals.
Last Monday, as soon as the viewing period ended, all of the view counts on all of the entries disappeared. I suspected that might happen so a few hours before the deadline, I took a screen shot of the 12 “most viewed” entries in the Gain contest. The Red X’s indicate which of these “popular” entries did not make the finals and the Green Checks indicate the videos that did make the finals.
Take a look at those view counts. Some of them are ridiculously high. The video in first place has 8,449 views! But out of the 480 videos that were submitted, only 22 had view counts higher than 1,000. So 8,449 views is unnaturally high. Now, many of these videos were actually pretty great. And really, all of them are at least kind of decent. But even if these videos all sucked and even if they recived a 10% creative score, 10% of 4,000 is 400. And gain actually picked several finalist videos that had FEWER than 400 views.
So all of these Red X’ed videos must have been disqualified. Gain of course can’t reveal WHY these entries didn’t make the Top 25 but there are only 3 explanations:
1. An entry could have gotten a creative score of ZERO.
2. An entry could be disqualified for cheating.
3. An entry could have been disqualified for breaking other rules like using “third party content” (music, images, SFXs) the entrant didn’t own.
There is no way any of these entries were bad enough to deserve a creative score of zero so reason #1 can’t possibly explain what happened. Some of these entries do use “third party content” but a lot of the the videos in the finals do. (Like this one) So I don’t think Gain disqualified any of these submissions because they broke other rules. So…that only leaves cheating.
I kept a close eye on the view count race in this contest and I can tell you, it looked like there was massive amounts of cheating happening. Some videos recived 100’s of views every day like clockwork. Others would suddenly gain 200 views in the middle of the night. There was even one video that got just about 270 views every day! What are the odds that the same number of people would watch the same video every day for several days in a row? Or how about the video that was the 3rd Most Viewed? That video has nothing in it that could possibly cause it to be disqualified. That video was approved on June 22nd and by the view count deadline of July 11th, they had 5,150 views. Does 257 views A DAY really seem realistic when most entries in this contest weren’t able to get 257 views during the entire viewing period?
So did all those people with Red X’s on their videos really cheat and fake their views? There’s no way for us to know. For the record, I’m not saying any of those people cheated for sure. But the evidence suggests that they did SOMETHING to break the rules of the contest that got them disqualified. I do want to say that I do NOT believe that the 2nd most viewed video cheated. It was created by a reader of this site named Andrew D. and I know that he had an army of people working on getting him a lot of views. But I do know that other contestants were trying to get him disqualified because he posted his video to youtube and that was sort of against the rules. So, I think he might have been bounced on a technicality.
As I mentioned a few weeks back, I actually entered this contest but I submitted my entry way too late. I only managed to get about 400 views so I didn’t make the Top 25. However, I absolutely have to applaud Gain and the company running the contest, Don Jagoda Associates for doing the right thing here. It was against the rules to “view” your video over and over using fake accounts so anyone who did that deserved to be disqualified. It’s nice to see that some companies actually care about running a fair, online contest.
HOWEVER…I also have to CONDEMN Gain for basically lying to contestants about how they were going to determine the winners. Even if Gain had to disqualify dozens and dozens of entries, there is simply no way that a video like this should have or could have made the finals:
This video only received about 200 views. So even if it got a perfect, 100% creative score, it still would have only had a creative score of 200 which wasn’t supposed to be enough to get it in the top 25. But this video is so amazingly awful that there is no way it got a perfect creative score. So how and why did it ever make the finals?
It’s clear that something seriously unethical did happen here. Gain lied to their customers about how the winners would be picked. So what can you do about it? Jack shit, that’s what! The finalists have been picked and there’s nothing you can do to fight Gain’s terrible decisions.
And so, the real contest now begins! To be honest, I’m actually kind of relived I didn’t make it to the finals now that I know that Gain is willing to play fast and loose with the rules. And on top of Gain’s shadiness, votes alone determine the winner of this contest. So I can’t even imagine how horrible the next 2 weeks are going to be for the people in the finals. If a finalist wants to have any chance of winning, they’re going to have to spend at least 60 hours a week begging for votes. And if someone isn’t willing to work that hard on their campaigns, they might as well not even bother. Because somewhere, among the finalists there are surely several people who ARE ready to take the next 2 weeks off from work and do nothing but scrounge for votes. One of the people listed on this page is going to win a million dollars: https://apps.facebook.com/gainmillionbucks. I can’t tell you specifically who the winner will be but I can tell you this, the prize will go to whoever is smart enough not to cheat and whoever is determined enough to dedicate every waking hour for the next 2 weeks to winning that million bucks.
Later this week I’m going to announce my picks and predictions for this contest. So if you made the finals and want to let me know why you think you’re going to take home that million bucks, let me know: VideoContestNews@gmail.com.