Posted June 28, 2007 9:08 am by with 4 comments

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One of the hottest marketing trends of late is to get your customers to create your next ad campaign for you. It worked for Doritos and their Super Bowl ad contest, but sometimes it can backfire, as Chevy can attest to.

Malibu Caribbean Rum is the latest big brand to get its reputation slightly singed when their YouTube video contest backfired. Malibu asked for video entries, offered a $25k prize and even had Efren Ramirez of “Napoleon Dynamite” help with the judging.

Unfortunately, when the winner was declared, some entrants cried fowl, suggesting that contest was rigged.

One YouTube user even made a six-minute conspiracy theory video that compared images from a professional Malibu commercial promoting the contest with the winner?s video, saying in part: ?Wow, the same nose!? The same guy? You be the judge!?

?It just looks like, wow, they rigged the contest,? said Debbie Lusignan, 35, of Adams, Mass. ?I am furious. I spent 60 hours on this freaking contest.?

The winner and Malibu both deny any conspiracy, but as Techdirt points out, perception is often reality and so whether rigged or not, a question mark will forever hang of the legitimacy of the contest.

Still, what is it they say about “all publicity is good publicity?” 😉

  • Hardly worth the $25,000 bucks. They should have just paid the $100,000 and did it themselves.

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  • This is a classic example of how NOT to run a contest of this kind. We’ve run idea prizes for the last 5 years for companies like Hilton Hotels, American Express, Chrysler, Red Hat and others. They violated some important rules for organizing online user-generated contests:

    1)Don’t change the rulesof the game after you launch, if you do then inform everyone immediately of the changes.

    2)Be Transparent. Share information with your contestants and give them feedback if possible. They’ve invested a lot of time and effort, its the least you can do.

    3)It’s not about the money. Cash prizes are secondary. Passionate people (and winners) spend their valuable time craft entries to share their ideas, get feedback, sharpen their skills, get recognition to stand out from the crowd…it’s only human nature, right?

    270 submissions is quite small. We run an annual contest ( that attract 440 teams in 15 countries last year. We ran another for the open source leader, Red Hat that attracted 343 teams.