California Man Wins Ad Contest

Promo Magazine
June 20, 2007

By Larry Jaffee

Travel Web site awarded $5,000 to a Venice, CA man who was among 80 entrants in a contest open to the public seeking a commercial to promote the city.

The winner, Brian Lazzarro, also won the opportunity to re-shoot his spot, or possibly a new one, with a professional crew and budget. The commercial will be then rolled out nationally for broadcast television.

Lazzarro said that he spent $300 on producing the spot, which was shot in an afternoon and edited on Apple's Final Cut in the next couple of days.

As a professional videographer and graduate of NYU Film School, Lazzarro owns an HD video camera, Panasonic HVX200. He's worked in Los Angeles for the past three years as a music video director. He has worked on about 15 music videos for such bands as Rilo Kiley, Good Charlotte and Deftones. An actor friend urged him to enter the contest.

For the past two months, Lazzarro has worked for a Los Angeles music label/video production company Candor Entertainment, whose president is actually the guy in the winning video.

"When I emailed him my idea, he e-mailed me back from his Blackberry, 'Let's do it,'" Lazzarro said.

Lazzarro's winning commercial, dubbed "The All Nighter," was selected among five finalists on June 14 at a party co-hosted by the CineVegas Film Festival at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

Celebrity judges included Oscar winner Dennis Hopper, who serves as the festival's chairman of its Creative Advisory Board. The five finalists were flown in from different parts of the country to present their commercials. The contest marked the first time that turned to consumer-generated content for advertising ideas.

"The All Nighter" is set in California, where a man walks down the street in the daytime carrying a cocktail and a stripper's dancing pole, which accounted for $195 of the $300 budget. People on the street gawk and stare. A beautiful woman walks towards him and he approaches her. He plants the pole on the sidewalk and through his body language; he encourages the woman to dance for him. When she shoots him down, the arrow appears on screen with the tagline "Increase your odds." Lazzaro noted that his video has a low-budget, documentary-like look, which was intended, instead of a more obvious Las Vegas nighttime vignette.

"It'll be my first non-spec work that's not a music video," Lazzarro said of the forthcoming production.

"We were impressed with the level of professionalism and creativity from the entries we received," said Howard Lefkowitz, president, in a statement. "Many companies who have run contests to solicit ideas from the public have been unsatisfied with the results. By teaming up with CineVegas, we reached an extremely talented pool of contestants." has received accolades and numerous awards for its advertising campaigns. Most recently, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International presented with the 2007 Best Advertising Series Award. Past awards include the Travel Industry Association's Odyssey Award for Best Advertising in 2004 and 2006. The 9th Annual CineVegas Film Festival was held June 6-16, 2007 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.