NTV Moneymaker: Produce Amazon’s Next Commercial


How’s this for a deal? Amazon.com (s AMZN) is starting a public contest for its next TV commercial, and the two lucky winners will both get Amazon gift certificates for $10,000 each. The web retailer is soliciting 30-second video spots until July 17, after which both a jury and the general audience will crown one winner. Voting for the audience price will begin mid-August, and the final winners will be announced Sept. 21.

Granted, Amazon isn’t exactly the first company to crowdsource its TV or web video commercials. In fact, video contest site Vidopp.com regularly lists dozens of contests from major brands and online startups alike. Some offer pretty substantial cash prizes, while others promise anything from a backyard barbecue set to a month of free rent. However, Amazon doesn’t seem to go down the contest route just to save money by not hiring a professional production company. The company clearly wants you to go all out. Why else would it reference the Three Wolf Moon shirt?

Yes, that’s right: Amazon announced the contest with a press release that has VP of Global Marketing Steve Shure saying: “One need only look at the customer reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk and the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt to see how many creative and talented customers we have.” That’s to our knowledge the first time an Amazon executive has officially referenced those two products, which both became Internet memes by attracting thousands of silly and strange reviews despite being otherwise completely unremarkable. It’s just an out-of-fashion shirt and a gallon of milk, after all.

The contest page also links to the reviews for Uranium Ore, where people praise the radioactive material as a “killer product,” and implies that Amazon would like to see that same kind of creativity applied to its audience-submitted commercials as well.

The next hint that Amazon doesn’t really want you to re-enact Howie Mandell’s cheesy Buy.com ads are the stock photos that can be used in these spots. Seriously, you want people to get all creative, and all you give them is a bunch of shots of brown paper boxes? That’s pretty much begging for crazy. I can hardly wait to see all those commercials about a simple box completely changing someone’s life.

On a more serious and industry-related note, Amazon is also using the contest to promote its Withoutabox site that it acquired a year and a half ago through its subsidiary IMDB. Withoutabox is offering indie filmmakers promotional services, such as the ability to enter film festivals, sell DVDs online, and promote their materials through IMDB. Withoutabox members can also use the site to participate in the contest by mailing in a DVD if they don’t want to upload the content directly to Amazon.com.

NTV Moneymaker is an irregular feature in which we showcase a way to make a living with your video skills.


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