The 7 Commandments of Video Contesting

I was recently fortunate enough to win the Grand Prize in the Maine Association of Realtors“My Piece of Maine” video contest which ran April to June of this year. And over the past year or so, I’ve had a pretty good batting average with many of the “consumer-generated advertising” contests that brands have held online, be they on their own, or through creator/company matchmaker sites like XLNTAds.com and GeniusRocket.com.


Many people ask, “How do you find out about these contests?” or “How do you come up with that stuff?” So, this post is an attempt to answer some of these questions, and share a little about what I’ve learned at this stage of the game.

1) Thou shalt be brief. This is one for Advertisers to bear in mind as well as Creators, and to me, it’s the most important. With the internet cultivating such short attention spans in its users, you gotta make your point, then wrap it up, especially when you’re making an ad. 60 seconds is plenty. 30 is better.

2) Thou shalt play by the rules. This one’s simple. Read the creative brief, contest rules, instructions, etc., and follow ‘em to the letter. If they ask for an .mpg, don’t send an .avi. If they say “no more than 3 minutes,” don’t submit a video that’s 3:45. Don’t give contest administrators any reason to disqualify your entry before it even gets viewed.

3) Honor thy target demo. Is the advertiser trying to reach women 35-54? Men 40+? Pet owners? Gamers? Make your video a mirror of that target viewer, so when they watch, they see themselves.

4) Remember thy deadline, and keep it holy. Don’t be late with your submission, and don’t ask for an extension. It’s not fair to the people who were on time.

5) Thou shalt not be a poor sport. Be humble when you win, and gracious when you don’t. Congratulate the winner(s) sincerely and affably, or don’t say anything. You may not agree with the judges’ decisions, but they were made for a reason. Besides, if you hit the target every time, it’s either too close or too big, right? Get ‘em next time.

6) Thou shalt get involved in the community. As creators, we all strive to be original and unique, but we do have at least one thing in common: each other. Interact. Read and subscribe to related blogs. Comment and ask questions of other creators. Learn as much as you can, and offer help to those who ask it of you. We’re at the forefront of this burgeoning advertising medium, and in a few years’ time, we’re going to be the seasoned experts, so we’re gonna have to know what the hell we’re talkin’ about.

And finally,

7) Thou shalt not enter a contest in which I am also competing. Because face it: I don’t need the competition, and neither do you.

Obviously, I’m kidding about the last one. I actually welcome the competition, and quite enjoy it. There are a TON of outstanding video creators online, and when I see a good video, it always makes me want to step up my game a little more.

If you have any other tips you think would make good “Commandments” for your fellow contesters, by all means, please post ’em!

Good luck!

8 Responses to The 7 Commandments of Video Contesting

  1. Great suggestions! Your winning video made me think of the current Good Magazine film contest, which only has two entries so far. The winner gets two free tickets anywhere JetBlue flies. You should enter there, too!