How to win a video challenge?

In this article I will explain how me and my friend Bas Jongerius won a snow scooter safari to Lapland. We did this by making a creative video that got over one million views on Dutch television. I will share ideas, tips and advices to get ahead of your competition.

In November 2014, Countershade Productions won the ‘Make your world Bigger‘ challenge by Discovery Channel. The challenge was simple: make a video or photograph of one or multiple challenges. There were 25 possible challenges in total, such as: ‘find gold’, ‘eat something new’, ‘learn to fly’ and ‘get a new haircut’. Discovery Channel started this campaign, because they existed for 25 years in the Netherlands, and claimed that they broadened our horizons for all those years.

Tip 1: Do something unexpected

It is quite simple, but often people forget to do or try something that others don’t. They follow the given rules and forget to think and act different. In our case we right away said to ourselves: “How are we going to create something, that cannot be ignored by the jury.” Once again, easier said than done, but a nice challenge I would say. And the 1st price also helped us quite a lot, I mean, who is not willing to explore the region above the arctic circle, called Lapland.

And so we started our brainstorm session to think about how we could achieve the challenges in the first place. How are we going to find gold in the heart of Amsterdam? Or, how are we going to learn to fly without spending any money? Quite hard. Luckily we had the ‘do something unexpected’ mindset and came to the conclusion that we had to interpret the challenges differently than contestants would in general.

During the first week of the campaign we saw several videos and photos being uploaded by contestants. Quite what we expected: with all respect, nothing really special. But more important; there was almost nobody trying to beat all the challenges. That brought us to the idea to do at least all the challenges, but even more complicated, to combine them all in one ‘storyline’ in one short video. This video had to be short, and it needed a fast and straightforward style. With that in our minds, we took the next step.

Tip 2: Manipulate and Seduce

It’s all about the details. You have to understand the perspective of jury, manipulate your application so that it fits their needs and wishes and don’t forget to seduce them with the right elements. Still sounds vague, doesn’t it? Some examples:

The first time we heard of the ‘Make your world bigger’ campaign was at the Mudmasters 2014 event. Discovery Channel was the main sponsor of this event. *Both me and Bas finished the 18km +31 obstacles challenge, in just a little more than 2 hours – Try to beat us! The reason why I tell this, is that we used several aspects of the event in our final video. Firstly, we did not get a medal after finishing the run, but a T-shirt instead. So, we used that T-shirt in one of the challenges called ‘Take a selfie with a wild animal’ by wearing it. Also, during the Mudmasters event we were able to eat several dried insects. Perfect solution to use those for the ‘eat something new’ challenge.

Next to that, we tried to add more Discovery Channel elements that the jury would definitely recognise. For the challenge ‘get a new haircut’, we showed a picture of the one and only survival expert Bear Grylls to the hairdresser and asked her politely to create that haircut. Even one step further, we copied the Discovery Channel brand in our final video style. We used their fonts, graphics and picture profile.

Time to check the original application video, isn’t it?

Check out the original application video below. Don’t forget to continue reading after seeing the video for more tips, the broadcasted Discovery Channel version and of course the final Lapland after movie. Since the texts are in Dutch in the video, I made a list of the challenges in order of appearance in English. Find the list below the video.

In order of appearance in the video:
#1: Run your own obstacle run. #2: Find an oldtimer. #3: Another life for a moment. #4: Make space for something new. #5: Eat something new. #6: Try your luck. #7: Do an experiment. #8: Take an alternative bath. #9: Take a selfie with a wild animal. #10: Bike for an hour to the south. #11: Build your own treehouse. #12: Do a trick. #13: Learn to fly. #14: Photograph from a high point of view. #15: Get a new haircut. #16: Find gold. #17: Take another route. #18: Take the first train. #19: Take something apart. #20: Held somebody else. #21: Catch your own food. #22: Wake up somewhere else. #23: Create a work of art. #24: The number 25. #25: Hug somebody.

Tip 3: Add humour, and oh, don’t take yourself too serious

Ever saw a wild tiger bread before? Ate a scratch card? Or broke up with your girlfriend, just to win a video contest? Probably not. I think a crucial factor in our video is that we tried to not take ourselves too serious, just do strange things and mainly to have fun with it. You could almost call it a lifestyle.

Tip 4: Create, recreate and recreate again

It takes time to make something special. Don’t think we made this movie in an afternoon. Only the editing itself took us at least 40 hours, let alone the brainstorm or the filming of the scenes.

The biggest challenge was that we wanted to keep the video shorter than 4 minutes. A quick calculation tells us that we had 25 challenges to distribute over 240 seconds, meaning less than 10 seconds per challenge. It took us ages to choose the right images in the right order to explain the challenges correctly in such a short time.

Tip 5: Perfect timing

Oh, and don’t forget to be too early or too late with handing in your application. If you are too early you can’t get inspired by others (if you want…), but more important; others cannot copy you / get inspired by your video. In that case you would create your own competition. On the other hand, don’t be too late. Your production might feel similar to others 0r the jury might have already been seduced.

***Congratulations***

At our visit at the Discovery Networks office in Amsterdam we creatively heard that we were the true winners of the ‘Make your world Bigger’ campaign. Before our arrival we did not know that we were the winners, so at the office we were guided to a room where we would meet other contestants. Strangely, all the Discovery employees were looking a bit suspicious at us, as if they were recognising us. A good sign. But when we arrived at the assigned room, we had to wait for ‘other’ adventurous competitors. But of course, nobody came in. Instead, only more and more Discovery employees started to join. Once we saw a lady with a camera and a bottle of champagne laughing at us, it was quite clear that we were the true winners of the competition.

Discovery was so happy with our creation, that they were willing to broadcast our video on television for 20 times during their commercial breaks. We just had to agree to that. And we did. In these 20 broadcasts we got over one million views in total. You can check out the broadcasted video below. Note that Discovery Channel had to change the music due to the rights on that music, and the style to fit their brand completely. Don’t forget to check out the final Lapland aftermovie below!

Lapland (Levi, Finland)

Let’s not forget the reason why we started this project in the first place: a snow scooter safari in Lapland. As you would expect, we made a video completely in our own style during our trip. Check out the result. The video is called ‘The North is Near’. Inspired by a text we directly saw after our arrival at the airport in Kitillä.

Click here for some pictures of our journey.

Thanks for reading. Share your experiences, questions and remarks below!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *