YouTube OgilvyOne Contest Skips Some Very Basic Steps, Will Probably Still Be A Success

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There’s an interesting new marketing effort—using YouTube—that the web is buzzing about today:  a contest from a global marketing agency named OgilvyOne Worldwide.  The contest’s goal?  To find the single best salesman on the planet—or saleswoman.  The contest is actually called “The Search For The World’s Greatest Salesperson.”

It seems that OgilvyOne was started by a man named David Ogilvy (naturally) who was considered one of the world’s best salesmen in his own right—he was successful enough at selling stoves door to door that he was asked to literally write the book on how it should be done.

Now, to honor their famous salesman founder, OgilvyOne is hosting an open YouTube contest across the globe—in fact, the contest is being conducted in 15 countries, including India, Brazil, and China… as well as the U.S.  Entrants need only to record a video of themselves selling a simple red brick and then upload that video to the branded YouTube channel for the contest.

Participants must be 18 or older, and will see their 1-2 minute videos judged by a panel of experts and voted on by the viewing community at large.  From there, the entrants will be whittled down to a handful of finalists, each of whom will be interviewed and then required to turn in a written assignment.

Eventually, there will only be three finalists left, who will be flown to Cannes, France to make live presentations to a final panel of judges, pitching an as-yet-to-be-determined product.  The winner gets a job at OgilvyOne Worldwide.  Here’s the company’s video about the contest:

There are a number of things about this contest that I want to touch on:

  • Hopefully they have weighted the judges and audience votes appropriately, because if the YouTube community at large has too much say, the finalists will all be attractive females—though it’s also possible that a coordinated voting effort could result in three finalists who are actually horrible salesmen.  I presume they’ve gone the safe route and placed the majority of finalist selection in the hands of the expert judges.
  • I definitely love the simple concept of selling a brick.  It has no bells and whistles, and it’s a universal object—giving an advantage to no one.  True salesmen will find a way to get creative, which is what they’re going for, I’m sure.What I love even more than the simplicity of the concept is the fact that they apparently chose a brick as their object intentionally, as a way to expand the audience of the contest to countries outside the U.S.  I am a huge proponent of using YouTube in a way that breaks down borders, and applaud Ogilvy’s original thinking on choosing a sales item that most of the rest of the world can related to.  Not that Ogilvy won’t be benefitting from the extra exposure themselves.
  • They could maybe have hired a video SEO expert and given themselves an even better head start on the contest.  For instance, a quick search on Google for “world’s greatest salesperson” turns up no mention whatsoever about the contest, much less a video result from their branded channel.  Oops.   Ditto when searching for “sales contest.”Now, I’ve been accused before of being a guy who often points out obvious (or “easy”) SEO solutions.  But titling the video “Are You The One?” seems a huge misstep to me.  Who is going to go searching for that phrase (besides Neo, I mean)?  Why not title it “World’s Greatest Salesperson?”  I mean, that’s not even one of the tags they chose!  I know I’m not dropping any revolutionary video SEO tactic here… but, man, maybe we’re not ready for revolutionary tactics when we can’t get the title right.While it’s common to see viral efforts that have a catchy title (as opposed to a keyword-rich title), this video is not a candidate for huge viral success.  In fact, the target audience is relatively small—great salespeople who are looking for a new job.  That’s not to say the contest isn’t a great idea or can’t have great success… just that it’s not the kind of thing mothers will be forwarding to cousins and daughters and coworkers.  You have to have your keyword strategy planned out a little more carefully when the demographic for your video is, by definition, a tiny slice of the online video audience.
  • This is still a huge win for OgilvyOne.  First, it got me and several hundred other journalists and bloggers writing about them, so there’s instant free press.  I didn’t even know who they were before this morning, so the argument could be made that the contest is already paying off for them.Second, they will be spending a relatively paltry sum for the entire promotion:  a few plane tickets and hotel rooms for the final presentations—maybe a few thousand dollars total?    So the cost-to-publicity ratio is strongly in their favor.Third, they may actually end up with a great salesman as a new employee, which can’t be a bad thing.
  • The company is doing some other things right—including the use of their Facebook page to drive interest in the contest.  Video campaigns almost can’t survive anymore without a social component, so it’s good to see them leveraging Facebook as a tool here.
  • We’ve reached a kind of tipping point, for me, on this kind of thing.  While there’s still plenty of merit in a simple YouTube contest, I’m kind of anxiously awaiting the next company to really reinvent the online contest.  While this will almost definitely gain Ogilvy some new worldwide exposure—and that’s nothing to sneeze at—I can’t help but long for some agency to come out with a new kind of online video contest that I haven’t even dreamt of yet… something really innovative and unique.  But then again, there’s something to be said for not fixing things that aren’t broke.

What would you do differently if you were running this contest?  What kind of creativity would you put to work if you were making your own brick-selling video entry?  What’s the next big innovation in these online video contests… is it Chatroulette?  Some kind of iPhone tie-in?  I’m curious to know where you think this sort of thing is heading.  Wherever it leads, I hope we can continue to get the word out on video SEO so that with future contests, titles and tags will be second nature.


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