What it is:
You can crowdsource almost everything these days, from small
businesses, product prototypes, movies and even vacations. But what about
crowdsourcing advertisements, or viral videos?
Using Tongal’s online portal,
brands can use the power of the crowd to generate and execute video marketing
concepts for them, which flips the crowdsourcing model on its head. In most crowdsourcing projects, people chip in money to support an idea, but with Tongal, people chip in ideas to get money.
Tongal’s co-founder and chief product officer James
DeJulio came from the world of video production, but saw a lot of
inefficiencies in the process. Previously, he was a film studio executive in
Hollywood, working for Paramount’s Robert Evans Company whose credits
include How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days
and The Kid Stays in the Picture. DeJulio
says the traditional ways a creative person got hired to work on films was
extremely slow and, restricted to only a few select people. “Especially out in LA, I saw a massive
pool of talent, but I knew so many creatives who had no access to work,” says
DeJulio. “I always knew there was a better way to connect to talent.”
DeJulio says he was
also frustrated with escalating production costs for video, when the reality
was it was getting cheaper to make them.“While we saw production costs for
videos rising at film studios and agencies, we also saw how inexpensive it was
becoming to produce videos at home, with cheaper cameras and editing software
producing high quality work,” he says.
DeJulio says he then set out to democratize the labor force,
by asking creatives everywhere to take a shot at working on projects for
brands, and introducing quality control by making the process a ‘tournament
How it works:
Brands approach Tongal with a marketing goal, or a need
for a video, and Tongal lists the project on its website. As soon as it is
listed, people compete to win the project through a series
In the first round Tongal asks creative people to simply
come up with concept for the video, using the Twitter restriction of describing
it in no more than 140 characters. Anyone can suggest a concept and DeJulio
says the 140-character restriction keeps things concise and makes the concept
more open to interpretation. The three best ideas are narrowed down and
eventually a winning concept is picked.
In the second round, filmmakers then pitch execution ideas
based on the winning concept for another round of competition, after which
brands once again narrow down the top three, who are then allocated a budget
and told to go make a video. Out of those three, brands finally pick the best
video for their campaign.
Of course there’s a monetary incentive involved. The best
idea gets $500 if it is picked, with runners up getting $250. And the winning
filmmaker gets prize money ranging from $30,000 to $40,000, with the runners up
receiving at least a $5000 consolation prize. Not a bad way to make a living,
as DeJulio points out, one filmmaking
team made over $300,000 in a year purely through competing on Tongal, with 10
filmmakers making over $100,000.
Some of Tongal’s best projects have come from far away
sources. Micro-lending non-profit Kiva used Tongal to commission a video
that would explain how the company worked, and the winning video ended up being
made by a filmmaker in Sweden. The video, an animated film following a farmer
who benefits from Kiva loans, was so popular it got featured on Youtube’s front
page, making it a bonafide hit.
It’s not just startups, several large brands used Tongal to
commission commercials, viral videos and corporate content. Duck Tape used
Tongal to create Duck Tron, a 36
second spoof of the popular TV series and film Tron, and is currently the 10th most viewed video on
And Pringles used Tongal to create a funny Star Wars themed commercial.
DeJulio says 80% of the projects on Tongal come from repeat
business, since brands and agencies have found it to be an effective tool for
tapping into a wealth of great concepts. “We’re not selling ads, we’re selling
creativity,” says DeJulio.
While currently Tongal works best for generating online and
TV video commercial concepts, the startup is branching out into other avenues
as well. One of its most high profile projects (and certainly one that got me
very excited personally,) is a new music video for rock legends, The Who, who
are remaking a music video for their song I’m Free for the re-release of
their classic rock opera Tommy.
DeJulio says he’s excited about going into music videos because it gives anyone
a chance to pitch an idea for their favorite musical acts, and possibly even
work with them.
DeJulio says the startup has also started receiving requests
for shorter form videos, such as marketing content that will work for Instagram
or Vine, which would take its content out of the large video platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo, and directly into more social media conversations.