Posts Tagged ‘rules’

Lay’s wants to give you a million bucks for picking their next flavor

Hey, those idiots misspelled “favor!”

Unfortunately, Lay’s new “Do us a Flavor” competition is NOT a video contest.  But the grand prize is a million bucks so I figured that most VCN readers wouldn’t mind if I posted the details of a non-video contest for a change. For this competition, all you have to do is pick three ingredients and combine them (virtually) to make up a new potato chip flavor.  I just entered and my flavor is “Chicago Style Hot Dogs” which would be comprised of Green Relish, Sport Peppers and Onions.  Tell me that wouldn’t be delicious!  Not to go off on a tangent here but if you’ve never had a real Chicago style dog before you should do yourself a favor and shove one down your hot dog hole as soon as possible. When you’re in the Chicago area the best two places to get your Chicago dogs are Hot Doug’s and a small chain named Portillos.  I am a freaking hot dog connoisseur and Portillos probably makes the best hot dogs on the Earth.  And if you disagree with me we can fuggin’ fight about it anytime you want.

Um anyway, yeah this a huge contest and you can enter a bunch of times so Lays will probably receive every food combination ever dreamed of between now and the October 6th deadline.  Lays will pick three finalists and they will actually produce and sell all three selected flavors.  Consumers will vote and the creator of the most popular flavor will get a million dollars.  They two other finalists will get $50,000 each which ain’t too shabby.

To enter, all you have to do is head to Lay’s Facebook page and use their contest application to name your flavor and list the ingredients you would use.  Sounds simple, right?  Well I guess that system is too complicated because Lays has been receiving an avalanche of wall comments like these:

I’m going to guess that about 30% of the entries Lays receives will be “Pizza”

Yes…It looks like literally thousands of people have been leaving their flavor ideas as comments because for some reason they think that’s how you enter.  Lays keeps trying to tell people how to OFFICIALLY enter but the goofballs on facebook just won’t listen.  If you want to enter this monster the right way, head here and read the rules before you submit. But try not to get your hopes up for this one. It looks like half of Facebook has already submitted flavor ideas so this might wind up being the biggest contest in the history of the Internet.

When will Doritos announce the 2013 Crash the Super Bowl contest?

Man, I haven't bought a bag of these in a while.

The start of the 2012-2013 NFL season is now just three months away so I think it’s finally time to start thinking about the new installment of Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl contest.  Actually, I know that a lot of you guys have been thinking about the contest for months.  According to my traffic stats, during April and May, dozens of people a week visited VCN for the first time after googling phrases like “doritos commercial contest 2013” and “when does the Crash the Super Bowl contest start?

So when will we know the details of the 2013 Crash?  Well, Fritolay keeps the details of the contest top secret until early fall.  Frankly, we don’t even know for sure if there will be a 2012-2013 installment of the CTSB contest.  But last year’s contest was a massively gigantic success; one fan-made Doritos commercial ( was ranked the best commercial of the year on USA Today’s ad meter and another CTSB ad () was ranked the best spot of the game in a (sort of bogus) facebook poll.  So two teams of filmmakers won million dollar bonuses and Doritos got a mountain of free publicity.  So I don’t think Doritos will be walking away from this incredibly successful franchise.  And why should they?  It’s been working great for them and each installment of the contest is bigger than the last.  Last year Doritos received about 6,000 submissions!  Can you imagine the backlash from their fans if they tried to skip the contest this year?

If the Crash is coming back for 2013, the planning has got to be well under way at Fritolay HQ.  But we probably won’t hear any details until the end of September.  Last year, Doritos launched the contest on September 27th, they started accepting entries on October 3rd and the deadline was November 21st.  So if they stick to the same timeline you’ve only got 5 1/2 months to work on your entries!!!  Better get crackin’, buddy!  Ok but seriously, you really should wait until the contest is actually announced before you start working on your ads.  Like I said, the 2013 installment isn’t a sure thing yet.  Plus you never know what kind of new twists Doritos could add to this year’s contest.  You don’t want to spend half the summer working on an epic commercial about Nacho Cheese Doritos only to find out in September that this year, Fritolay only wants ads about Cool Ranch Doritos.

VCN will let you know as soon as we hear any new details about the 2013 Crash the Super Bowl contest. If this is your first time visiting the site, be sure to bookmark us or subscribe to our blog feed!


Jolly Rancher launches a video contest with no rules

Yo, suck on these!

I try and follow what goes on over on 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.

Disappointing Results of the contest

Last week, announced the six winners of their 2nd annual commercial contest and I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed with the results. Scratch that. I’m not disappointed…I just feel like an idiot. For months I’ve been promoting the Skinit contest and encouraging V.C.N. readers to enter because I thought it was a great example of a fair and smartly-run contest. But in the end, the judges made some decisions that are just totally inexplicable. In last year’s installment of this contest the company picked several high-quality winners and then aired three of those ads on television. I exchanged some e-mails last week with a representative from Skinit and she said the company plans on doing the same thing this year, though they haven’t decided yet which of the 6 winners they’ll air.

However, I don’t see how they could air any of this year’s winners on TV. Some of the selected ads are just not technically good enough.  But the big problem with Skinit’s choices is that of the 6 category winners they chose, at least 5 of those videos don’t actually feature the products they are advertising.

The “Skins” that Skinit sells aren’t exactly cheap; “Wall Skins” and “Tailgate Skin” packs go for about 100 bucks each. Still, a lot of filmmakers plunked down the cash and ordered those products so they could use them in their ads.  But Skinit decided to reward a lot of filmmakers that didn’t even care enough to actually buy their products. At least 5 of the winning videos either used only stock images of skins from the Skinit website or they faked their “skins” with green screens and graphics. (I say “at least 5″ of the 6 winners don’t feature real products because I’m unsure about .  I THINK those are real “tailgate Skins.”)  Anyway, check out this video that won the “60 Second Tailgate Skin” category to see an obvious case of CGI skins:

Category Winner, 60 second Tailgate Skins. Prize: $5,000

That’s actually a very excellent commercial and will probably be one of the ads that wind up on TV. But would that be a smart decision for The “Skins” in this ad are clearly graphics that were inserted during editing. Would Butterfinger ever pick a winning commercial that featured digital candy bars? Of course not. If the product has to be faked to be included in the ad, the consumer concludes that there must be something wrong with the appearance of that product. I mean, the whole point of “skins” is how good they look, right? Here’s another example of what I’m talking about. This is the winner of the “30 second wall skin” category:

Category Winner, 30 Second Wall Skins.  Prize: $5,000

The idea is cute but again, it doesn’t show you the actual product. There were tons of really great, high-quality commercials submitted to this contest.  Couldn’t the judges find any they liked that featured real versions of what they’re trying to sell?  Even the two “Electronic Device” category winning videos are Skin-less and a cell phone skin is only like 10 bucks. The judges’ decision to pick so many videos that faked their skins or that only used stock images comes off as an insult to all the filmmakers that actually cared enough to purchase and feature the products they were supposed to be promoting.

If the fake-skin issue was the only problem with the results of this contest, I probably wouldn’t even mention it. But the Skinit judges also did something that I really hate; they picked a winner that clearly should have been disqualified because it violated the rules. And not only did they pick that video as one of the 6 winners, it actually won the grand prize of $25,000. Of the 170+ entries they received, here is the commercial that Skinit felt was the best of the bunch. It was submitted to the “60 second Wall Skin” category. See if you can spot the issue that should have gotten it disqualified:

Grand Prize Winner: Prize: $25,000

Ok, you were probably too distracted by the quality of that ad to notice anything that should have gotten it disqualified. I don’t think I will ever understand how a group of judges could all agree that the above video was the best entry that they received. Wasn’t the point of this contest to pick a winner that could air on television? I’ll admit, the idea for this ad is cute but its technical issues are just impossible to ignore. It’s just not at all pleasing to look at and the green-screened in “wall skin” looks very unnatural.  Probably the weirdest thing about this ad though is that the dubbed in, out-of-sync audio gives the whole thing a strange, creepy vibe.

But besides the technical issues, there’s another reason this ad will never air on TV.  And it’s the same reason it should have been disqualified. Check out this screen grab from the start of the video:

Hey! There’s a commercial in that commercial! The editor of that ad obviously worked hard to disguise all the billboards in the Times Square scenes but there was just nothing that could be done to discreetly blur out the Hyundai Tuscon commercial that was playing behind the lead actress in the opening shots.   I just re-watched the entry and noticed several recognizable billboard for the musicals Chicago, American Idiot and Promises, Promises too.  (check the first shots of the “wall skin.”)  All of those show images and names are copyright-protected and trademarked.  Here’s what Skinit’s official rules say about such things:

Each Submission … must not infringe any party’s intellectual property or other rights; it must be suitable for display and publication on national television

Each Submission must not contain any copyrighted works (other than as owned by the Entrant, group or any individual member of the group).

Submission may not contain or refer to any company/brand other use third party names, logos, or trademarks other than Skinit, Inc. and

Skinit reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove or blur or to ask the applicable Entrant to remove or blur any non-material elements (e.g. logos on clothing, vehicles, devices, images in the background, etc.) rather than disqualify an otherwise compliant Submission.

According to Skinit’s own rules, that video should have been rejected when it was submitted. Then (at their sole discretion) Skinit could have asked the creator of that ad to blur out the SUV commercial and the billboards and resubmit. They didn’t do that though. Instead they let a video with hardcore copyright issues into the contest and then awarded that video the top prize. Copyright infringement is no joke folks and you don’t get a pass just because you’re not a “professional” filmmaker. If Skinit aired that ad on tv they would get sued. Actually, Skinit and the person who made that ad could get sued RIGHT NOW by Hyundai. (That’s a Hyundai Tuscon ad playing in the background)  The creator of the ad used footage and trademarks that Hyundai owns in a video and sold the work for $25,000. And Skinit is featuring the ad on their website even though they know they have no right to display some of the copyrighted material in that ad.

Before I wrap up this post I’d like to mention one thing; I can’t blame ANYONE for winning a video contest as long as they do it fair and square. Just because I feel that Skinit should have picked some videos that featured their real products that doesn’t mean the folks who did win this contest should be anything but thrilled and proud about their accomplishment. It’s not their fault at all that the judges made some bad decisions. In fact. I’m sure every category winner is way more upset and confused about Skinit’s choice for the grand prize than I am.  Now that I think about it, Skinit doesn’t even explain WHY they picked the videos that they did.  I’m really curious as to why they thought they Times Square ad was better than the other 5 category winners.  It’d be nice if they actually explained their choices on the website.  Actually, it’d be nice if they just listed the names of the winners on the site.  Since all the entries had to be uploaded to the Skinit youtube channel, and since Skinit didn’t name any of the winners, we have no idea who made those ads.  It just looks a little suspicious.  Just 3 weeks ago I saw a really fishy video win a local Chicago video contest and so I googled the name of the sponsor (a local charity) and the name of the winner.  Sure enough, the winner of the $20,000 contest prize performed every year at an annual party the charity held.  They knew the filmmaker so well they were even helped throw an event in her honor after someone defaced one of her art projects.   So if Skinit would at least tell us WHO won their contest we could check to make sure they don’t like, you know…work for them or share the same last name as one of the judges.

But I digress.  You know what, I’ll end this post on a positive note. Here’s the entry that’s probably my favorite of the winners. What’s really funny is that the guy who made this ad just won a $15,000 runner-up prize in the Godaddy commercial contest and he used the exact same character in both entries. Here’s his godaddy ad:

Category Winner, 60 Second Consumer Electronics. Prize: $5,000

Man, good for that guy.  If you’d like to see all 6 of the Spotlight challenge winners, click here:

Weird Taxslayer contest is weird


For the third year in a row, is running their annual commercial contest.  I think I’ve got a decent idea for an entry and was looking forward to entering.  But this year, the rules of the taxslayer contest are so strange and complex that I think I might have to have to skip it.  It’s just giving me a weird vibe.  They’re asking contestants to provide a lot more stuff this year even though they are offering a grand prize that is $10,000 LESS than in previous years.  In 2008 and 2009, participants were supposed to submit one, 30 to 60 second commercial and one winner was awarded $25,000.  This year, the grand prize has been reduced to $15,000 and participants must submit TWO versions of their commercial; one that’s 15 seconds long and one that’s 30 seconds long.

For the first time though, Taxslayer is also giving away $5,000 for second place.  But last year, after the contest ended and the winner was picked, Taxslayer turned two other contestant’s entries into commercials.  So those people probably got $5,000 a piece at least.  Plus, Taxslayer paid to have all three of last year’s selected videos re-shot by professionals.  So while they are giving out more official prizes, they will be spending probably at least 20 grand less on this year’s video contest.

If you entered last year, you already know that the a lot of contestants were not happy about the winner that Taxslayer’s judges picked.  Here it is:

2009 Taxslayer Winner.  Prize: $25,000

No offense to the maker of the video and friend of VCN “HappyJoel” Moss but that video had zero production values.  It was a funny idea and he gave a good performance but everyone who entered the contest assumed that the whole point was to make a real  Taxslayer commercial that would air on TV.  After all, they aired the 2008 winner on TV exactly as it was submitted.  ()  The 2008 winner featured a guy in a real knight’s costume riding around on a real horse but the 2009 video featured a guy in a plastic knight’s costume and a print out of the taxslayer logo on his toy shield.

Taxslayer received tons of really great, professionally made entries.  Any number of them were good enough to put right on TV.  My own entry didn’t turn out so well so I didn’t expect to win at all.   But when they announced that the Press Conference video has won, I was still shocked.  Taxslayer explained that they loved HappyJoel’s press conference idea so much that they decided to pick him as the winner and planned to pay a production company to shoot a professional version of the ad.  ()  But that explanation just caused a lot more frustration.  If taxslayer wanted to re-shoot the winning ad, why didn’t they just say so right from the start?  I personally spent A LOT of time and a little bit of money shooting my taxslayer entry last year and I did it because I thought that I was supposed to shoot something that was “tv-ready.”  That’s what a lot of people thought.

So this year, I was looking forward to the contest because I thought they would be just looking for IDEAS for good commercials they could re-shoot. When I heard that the prize had been reduced by 10 Grand, I assumed that they were for sure just going to be looking for ideas.  But then I read the 2010 rules and now I have NO IDEA what those people want from us!

Here’s Taxslayer’s video that outlines the official rules of the contest:

The video says that in addition to winning $15,000 this year’s winners “may be broadcast on national television as part of the 2011 commercial campaign.”

OK, SO WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN??  Do they want slick, ready-for-TV commercials or do they just care about cool ideas since they plan to re-shoot them anyway?  Since the prize is so much smaller and since they re-shot 3 entries last year we should obviously save our money and make simple “Sample” ads, right?  But if that’s the case, why do they want one 15 second version and one 30 second version?  And why in the name of God do we have to submit copies of our entries on BETA TAPE?  They would only need a BetaSP copy of an ad if they were going to show it on TV.

It seems like Taxslayer is trying to hedge their bets.  If a contestant submits an ad that’s slick enough to air on TV, Taxslayer will save a ton of money if they pick it since they won’t have to re-shoot it.  But just in case they don’t like any of the high-production-value entries they get, they want to still have the option to re-shoot the winning ads.

And here’s another weird thing about this contest; First place gets you $15,000 and second gets you $5,000.  But Taxslayer will use both of those ads in their 2010 commercial campaign.  So the second place winner is getting a seriously raw deal!  Since both 1st and 2nd place videos will probably appear on TV, Taxslayer should purchase them both for the same price.

But there is no guarantee that Taxslayer will actually show any of this year’s entries (or remakes based on entries) on TV.  Nothing (that I saw) in the official rules say anything about the winning ads appearing on TV.  That is because Taxslayer doesn’t want to be contractually obligated to air any commercials.  They say the winning videos MIGHT air on TV and they only say that in the rules video.  They probably will air at least one winner but it’d be nice if they were willing to commit to that in writing.

Oh!  I almost forget the icing on the cake.  The ultimate winners of the contest will be picked by taxslayer’s judges.  But they will pick the winners from a pool of 20 finalists.  Those finalists will be determined by view counts and star ratings on youtube!  So if you even want to be considered, you better already have a decent number of subscribers and nice, deep social network.  Hey wait a second…I run a blog that gets thousands of hits a month!  Maybe I should enter.  If I appealed to VCN readers for support I should at least be able to get enough views and votes to land in the top 20.  Hmmmmm….

Like I said, I’ve been looking forward to entering this year’s Taxslayer contest.  But there are so many other HUGE contests running right now I’m not sure I should spend my time and resources on one that is so vague about what they want.  I wanted to write taxslayer and ask them to clarify some of their rules but I couldn’t find any contact info on the contest site; just an e-mail address for submissions and the rules say “this email address is for submissions only, we will not respond to questions or other communications.”  So I thought maybe I’d just ask my questions into the ether of the internet and see if anyone else had any theories about what exactly taxslayer is looking for.

Unless Taxslayer comes out and clarifies their rules, I think I’m going to pass on this one.  Or maybe I’ll got for it…I don’t know. Anybody out there plan on entering?

Invest in your love (and maybe a lawyer)


Invest in Your Love is a reoccurring video contest created to promote tourism to Tahiti.  Every couple weeks a new competition is announced and couples can send in videos explaining why the need a free island vacation.  Four couples have won so far but I don’t think I’ve posted the results before.  The winners are picked by online voting and you can even vote once per day so some videos wind up getting more than 5,000 votes which is pretty ludicrous.  Anyway, because the winners are picked in this way, quality entries don’t usually win so they’re not worth posting.  But I just saw the latest winning video and I thought it was worth sharing for one very important reason.  Here it is:

Kinda cute, right?  At the very least it was amusing to see little kids talk about Bernie Madoff and Enron.  But it’s sorta of odd that parents would use their kids to get a free trip to Tahiti, isn’t it?  I mean, it’s not a free trip for the whole family. Only mom and dad get to go.  I’d kind of feel gypped if I were those kids,  But I digress.  Here’s the thing that really caught my eye.  At the very end of the video, for like three seconds, this message appears on screen:


Seriously?  All images and music were used with permission?  Including the seven or so seconds of the movie Rocky that is shown playing on a TV?  (check the 1:16 mark) I just spent 5 minutes googling and I couldn’t even pin down which studio actually owns the rights to that movie.  So I’m going to guess that these contest winners didn’t actually clear that footage.

And that is not a small deal.  Is it likely that Sylvester Stallone or Warner Bros or MGM or whoever will come along and sue some contest winners from Lexington, KY?  Hey…you never know.  Did you ever think that you’d see the day when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) would sue 15 year old kids for downloading music?  And those kids didn’t even make any kind of profit from their acts of infringement.

Point is, be careful what you put in your contest entries.  Maybe you’ve heard the term “Fair Use” but fair use isn’t as fair as you’d think.  If you’re shooting documentary and a TV is playing in the background of a shot, that’s not copyright infringement.  But if you shoot a video contest entry and deliberately play a well known film on a TV set for a laugh, you technically just broke the law.  And if you end your video with a disclaimer saying “all images and music were used with permission,”  then some could argue that you are also committing an act of fraud.  No….I’m serious.  If the rules of a contest state that only entries that don’t violate the copyrights of others are eligible to win and if you lie about the legal status of your entry you are intentionally deceiving the contest organizers into allowing your ineligible entry in to the contest.  So worst case scenario, the couple that made this Tahiti video could be sued by the contest organizers, the losers of the contest and whoever owns the rights to the movie Rocky!  Oh, and Sly Stallone and Talia Shire since actors are supposed to get paid to appear in commercials/videos/whatever and they are being used to promote tourism in Tahiti without their knowledge.  (just look what happened to American Apparel after they put a picture of woody allen on a few billboards in NY without his permission)

As always, the best advice I can give anyone entering a video contest is this: Read and Follow the rules to a T.  The use of copyrighted material has sunk the chances of many great contest entries.  These Tahiti folks got away with a little copyright infringement but it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Score another victory for copyright infringers


This is really starting to get annoying. It seems like half the contest results I post include one video that should have been deemed ineligible by the contest’s judges. Today’s example is the first place winner of the 20/20 For Life video Contest. In this competition, people were supposed to create a video that promotes eye health and that illustrates themes set forth by the advertisers, blah, blah blah. First prize was good for $2,000. I can’t embed the winning video so click on this image to see it:


Not bad…well edited and written. They even got a good actor and filmed inside a real eye doctor’s exam room. So what’s wrong with it? The video is called “Boomer Magoo” and features a quick sound clip from a Mr. Magoo cartoon. That’s 100% copyright infringement right there chief. Also, I’m guessing that if the person behind this video didn’t care about infringing on the Mr. Magoo copyright then they probably didn’t bother to make sure the music in the video was royalty free. Here’s what the 20/20 “rules” say about doing stuff like that:

“Video must not contain any materials that are subject to third party ownership, including without limitation copyrighted materials such as music, videos or artwork; third party trademarks or names, likenesses, voices of third parties for whom Entrant does not have express written permission.”


Jim Bakus (AKA Mr. Magoo AKA Thurston Howel III) does not approve

As a bonus violation of the rules, I’m guessing the people who made this video didn’t dig up Jim Bakus and ask if they could use his voice.

Even though there were $3,500 in prizes up for grabs in this contest, only 15 people entered this one and most of the entries are not great. The Boomer Magoo video was the best video entered but legally it was ineligible. Why is it that filmmakers are expected to follow the contest’s rules to a T but the contest organizers can do whatever the hell they want, whenever the hell they want? The “Rules” of a contest are supposed to be a legally binding contract between the contest organizers and the participants, aren’t they?  They promise in writing that if we do A, B and C they will respond by doing D, E and F.  Obviously the contests have to have a lawyer write up their contest rules.  So where are these lawyers when it comes time to enforce these rules?  Isn’t anyone worried about getting sued?  Seriously, the second place winner in the 20/20 contest has a slam dunk small claims court case here if he wants.

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