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Jolly Rancher launches a video contest with no rules

Yo, suck on these!

I try and follow what goes on over on Poptent.net pretty closely and over the last few months I’ve noticed an odd trend developing.  It seems like more and more companies are running video “assignments” on Poptent that are sort of like the first phase of a larger video contest.  The brand’s judges review all the Poptent submissions they receive and then they select several finalists.  These finalists each get paid a few thousand dollars so the brand can post their videos on their websites or facebook pages for a few weeks.  Once the finalist videos are posted, fans of the sponsor are invited to vote on their favorite “consumer made” ads and the video that gets the most votes wins a big, fat cash prize.  So basically, companies are using Poptent so they can have their cake and eat it too.  Since there is so much talent over on Poptent the brand is almost sure to get a ton of high-quality videos to choose from.  (Bonus: they also don’t need to worry about non-winners posting their embarrassing, low-quality or offensive videos elsewhere on the web.)  And then when they run the second phase of the contest they also get the social media exposure that comes with running an online vote.  When all is said and done, the brand gets high-quality content, the are technically no “losers” so the fans don’t feel like the sponsor wasted their time, the sponsor’s website or facebook page gets tons of traffic and the directors that made the finals get at least a little cash for their trouble.

So it’s an interesting contest model.  But it really only works if all phases of the contest are run well.  The people at poptent obviously know what they’re doing so Phase One is guaranteed to run pretty smoothly.  But these types of contest can easily crash and burn once the brand takes over and launches the contest phase.  Case in point: Jolly Rancher’s Crunch ‘N Chew video contest.  Late last year Hershey’s ran a Poptent video assignment for their new product, Crunch ‘N Chew Jolly Ranchers.  In total they recived 189 videos which is a hell of a lot of submissions for a Poptent contest.  On Monday the company announced that they had picked three finalists and each winning filmmaker would be getting $2,500.  Then all three videos were posted on Jolly Rancher’s website for a month-long public vote.  After 30 days, the video with the most votes will be purchased by Hershey’s for $7.500.  And the winning filmmaker will be paid an additional $10,000 so they can produce two sequels to their first video. Hershey’s built a beautiful and simple webpage for the contest.  You can see it and all three of the finalist videos by clicking on this image:

Click to check out the actual site

As you can see, one video has already managed to get over 3,000 votes in about 4 days!  (Note: I’m writing this on Thursday night and the voting began on Monday morning.)  The website says you can “vote once a day” but 3,245 votes in 4 days still equals 811 votes a day!  That’s insane.  Unless you’re an Internet superstar, you’re not going to be able to pull down numbers like that.  So where are all those votes coming from?  Well, I did a little test and if you want to vote multiple times in this contest all you have to do is clear your web browser’s history and refresh the page.  Yep, it’s that easy.  You can vote an infinite number of times that way.

So I’m going to guess that most of Video #2′s votes came from the same computer.  Last night at 12:45AM I took a screenshot of the contest site and video #2 had 2,258 votes.  Nine hours later I checked the site again and video #2 was up to 3,022 votes.  So that video gained 764 votes overnight.  Right now it is 9PM on thursday night.  Since 10AM video #2 has only gained 223 votes.  How does a video get 764 votes in the middle of the night but only 223 votes during the day?  The only answer that makes any sense is that somebody stayed up all night voting for the same video over and over.

So these guys are cheaters and they should be disqualified immediately….right?  Wrong.  As far as I’m concerned anyone who casts multiple votes in this contest isn’t doing a damn thing wrong.  If you cheat in a contest you should get disqualified.  But “cheating” is BREAKING THE RULES.  And guess what?

The Jolly Ranchers video contest has no rules.

Seriously.  I’m not trying to be hyperbolic.  There are literally no rules for this contest.  The finalists have received no instructions from the sponsor and there are no rules on the contest site.  And if there are no rules, how can you possibly cheat???  The website says that “You can vote once per day through February 15th!”  But a single, random sentence isn’t legally binding.  And the site certainly doesn’t say you “may not vote more than once per day.”  How are contestants supposed to know what is ok and what isn’t if the sponsor doesn’t bother to tell them?  If Hershey’s REALLY didn’t want people to vote more than once a day, why did they make it so easy to vote over and over?

So frankly, you can’t blame the repeat voters.  The blame here belongs to whoever set up the voting phase of this contest.  I’m simply amazed that someone built that site without realizing people could easily vote for themselves as many times as they wanted.  I mean for Christsakes, $17,500 is at stake.  It’s just human nature to want to do everything you can to win a prize like that.  In fact, I don’t believe that no one realized this would happen.  I’m going to guess that the poor web designer or IT guy who set up the contest site probably tried in vain to explain to the marketing folks running this project that it was going to devolve into a pointless vote-a-thon.  I’ve been a tech and I spent years working with people in marketing.  They seem to just have a biological aversion to hearing about technical problems.  They pretty much just plug their ears and don’t want to acknowledge that something could go wrong.  And if they have to choose between fixing an important technical issue or preserving their vision well…their vision wins out every time.  So some marking person somewhere probably got the idea in their head that voting in this contest should be as simple as possible.  And the vision of a one-click vote wound up trumping common sense.

But as I said, the voting period in this contest lasts until February 15th.  That’s a long ways away.  Hershey’s still has plenty of time to fix this.  Because there are no rules the sponsor has no grounds to disqualify anyone.  And really, they don’t even have cause to throw out any of the votes.  But what they can do is post some freaking RULES.  Then if people get caught breaking those rules the company will have grounds to disqualify them.  But really, I think the smart thing to do at this point is just cancel the vote and pick a winner.  And maybe they can give the non-winners a little extra cash to compensate for what they’ve had to go through this week.  Seriously, this is one of the biggest video contest debacles I’ve ever seen and I would be freaking out if I had to endure a month-long, phony voting process. Right now this is a voting contest, not a video contest and that just sucks.

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE:  I was going to wait until Friday morning to post this but I’ll publish it now.  It’s now a little after 12:45AM and Video #2 is now up to 3734 votes.  That means that video received 1,476 votes in the span of 24 hours.  And 480 votes came in between the hours of 9PM and 1AM tonight.  That’s twice the number of votes that video got all day on Thursday.  Again, it’s not really possible to cheat in a contest where there are no rules but someone does seem to be voting for one of the entries over and over.  So I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if anyone at Hershey’s cares enough to do anything about this.

MONDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE:  Unfortunately, Hershey’s hasn’t done a thing to try and stop this out of control contest.  In fact, they have let things get much, much worse.  Video #2 is now up to 10,134 votes.  That means they got about 6,000 votes in 4 days.  But now, the team who created Video #1 have also apparently decided to try and win this contest.  Yesterday Video #1 had about 1,000 votes.  Today they have 4,000 votes!  As I keep saying, this contest has no rules so none of this can count as cheating.  But I have to ask, what the hell does Hersey gain from running a joke of a contest like this?

TUESDAY MORNING UPDATE:  Someone who called himself “Jolly Fan” left a comment accusing me of being the creator of the video that has the least number of votes in this contest.  Just for the record, I am not.  I didn’t even enter the Jolly Rancher assignment.  Click the comments button to see “Jolly Fan’s” very un-friendly message.  If you read between the lines it seems pretty obvious that Jolly Fan is actually the creator of Video #2.

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4 Responses to “Jolly Rancher launches a video contest with no rules”

  1. Jolly Fan says:

    This sounds like something posted by the person in last place. You don’t know what type of fan base either team of producers has. I’ll admit, the extreme increase of votes is a bit bazar, but how do you know the contestants fans didn’t do the alleged cheating on their own accord? I was a member of a team that didn’t make the final three, and I’ll tell you what…all contestants rightfully deserve the amount of votes they have received, and will come to receive. Honestly, I think the two contestants in question had the two best videos out of the three. That guy Bart has no clue. I especially think the “Brand New” video should’ve won outright, and the voting not had even taken place.
    You have no right to accuse the teams directly. You don’t know their fan base, and you don’t know who’s responsible or how it happened. Stop being a hater, Bart….

  2. Beardy says:

    Jolly Fan,

    First, just for the record, I am NOT “bart” of the finalist video “Bart the Bold.” I had nothing to do with that video. I am not in the finals and I did not shoot or even work on an entry for this contest.

    Second, I have a feeling that you’re being dishonest. I believe that you are probably one the two musicians that appear in finalist “Video #2” and you are pretending to be an objective observer.

    Here’s why I suspect that you are part of the “Brand New” team.

    1. Last night, I posted a link to this article in poptent discussion:


    I invited all the directors who made the finals to view the discussion. On poptent, you can tell when a member actually reads a discussion for the first time. According to poptent, the director of Video #2, Kevin Tindell looked at that discussion at about 2am. From my traffic logs it looks like he visited this site and then e-mailed someone else the link to this article. Then this comment appeared at about 2:45.

    2. To leave a comment on this site you have to provide an e-mail address. Your e-mail address is imademusic@***mail.com. That seems like a fitting e-mail address for a musician. (note: I censored part of the address)

    3. I get a lot of fake comments from directors and actors who want to compliment their own entries and it looks like you couldn’t help plugging your own video. I spent several hours researching and writing this article and I had no idea that Video #2 was named “Brand New.” So what’s “bazar” here is that you DID know the name of that video.

    If you’re not part of the “Brand New” team then I am going to feel like a real jerk for saying all this stuff. But there’s an easy way to settle this. You said that you were “part of a team that didn’t make the final three.” If that’s true, which entry was yours?

  3. Jolly Fan says:

    Dude what are you, retarded? The name of each video is on the front page of the site when you go to Jolly Rancher.com. And of course I’m a musician, I entered a contest that specifically requested a musical jingle. I think it’s pretty convenient that you forgot to mention how Bart is one of your followers, as WAS I. The fact that you traced who downloaded and forwarded what just proves that fact that you have nothing better to do but hate on people. I never meant to say you were Bart. That last sentence was directed at him. This one, however, is directed at you. Your false accusations are all too abundant. People like you are the reason our media system is all jacked up, because it’s full of people that make shit up. I appreciate you leaving out that part of my email, but again…you have no right to make these allegations. For all you know, each vote is legit, and you’ve just completely tarnished both teams careers. Which team I’m a part of is irrelevant…we lost. People just need to stop worrying about what other people are doing. If anything, “Do You Wanna Crunch”, “Brand New” and “Bart the Bold” should be writing this…not someone who has nothing better to do but to “monitor poptent”.

  4. Beardy says:

    Jolly Fan,

    Ok…that was a lot of pointless, angry words. If you really wanted to stick it to me, you would make me look like a jackass by letting me know which submission was yours.

    If you’d like to e-mail me your Jolly rancher entry, I promise not to post it on the site or even name it. I also won’t give your real name. All I will do is apologize for false accusations.

    Somehow I suspect I won’t be hearing from you.

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