Southwest Airlines is sponsoring an open digital storytelling contest for a new ad campaign through February 20th. Their website actually has the following advertisement hosted by YouTube embedded on it:

The poster of this video to YouTube has been a YouTube member for 2 months, self-reports his/her age as 26, and has two other videos uploaded to YouTube that have nothing to do with Southwest Airlines and are both silent: One is a video of a couple dogs and another is of a weird location listed as a church in the Czech republic. Strange.

The idea of engaging the creativity of consumers to help come up with a new and catchy marketing campaign is a potentially good one, I think, but is also fraught with some risk. Hopefully Southwest will have better luck than GM had with its Chevy Tahoe video contest late last spring. For students in a digital video class or marketing class, contests like this seem like an ideal venue to apply the theories and skills of the classroom in the real world. According to the official rules, the video must be 20 seconds long and uploaded to YouTube– and added to the “Southwest Wanna Get Away Group.” Currently there are 9 entries in the group. As you might expect, most seem pretty amateurish, and at least one seems to have nothing to do with the contest but possibly was posted there so the author could get more views. My favorite of the group so far is probably “The Car”:

Unfortunately for K-12 and most undergraduate students, the contest rules specify entrants must be at least 21 years old. The prizes (on the same rules page) look pretty good: Getting your video run as a national-advertisement along with a 2 night getaway vacation for four. Runners up also will receive airfare packages. Got some digital storytelling skills and over 21? Get to storyboarding, shooting and editing your masterpiece! 🙂

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