Video contests have shifted away from consumers, says Hugh Mitton

Hugh Mitton during the shoot of his Coca-Cola Valentine's Day ad for a Mofilm contest

Hugh Mitton during the shoot of his Love Is In The Air ad for a Mofilm contest

After speaking to Jared Cicon (aka Video Contest King) and Brett Slater (aka Slater’s Garage), two succesful video contest participants, here’s another interview of a talented filmmaker: Hugh Mitton. Actually we’re talking about a very talented filmmaker, who has a proven track record since he won various contests in the last years, including Coca-Cola’s Energizing Refreshment contest on eYeka and the same brand’s When Will Happiness Strike Next? competition on Mofilm.

The spot that got him the first prize on the Mofilm competition, called Love Is In The Air (see below) even got aired on Valentine’s Day during American Idol telecast, before reaching other countries around the world. Hugh had the kindness to answer some of my questions about himself and the video contest landscape. Here’s what he said.

Read an interview about the shooting of the above spot on Coca-Cola’s website

Hello Hugh, could you briefly present yourself?

Hi. I am Hugh Mitton, 23-year-old and I’ve grown up in New Zealand for all my life, I completed a marketing degree and went into advertising as a creative for a short while, and now am pursuing directing full-time.

When and how did you start to participate in online video contests?

I started in 2009 after I bought my first video enabled DSLR. I always wanted to be a filmmaker since a young age and the technology suddenly became very accessible to my 18 year old self. My primary motivation is still the same, but I’d say income definitely influences it now. Back then I was doing it just as a ‘serious hobby’ and didn’t have to worry about how I was going to live. Now it’s a little different.

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Do you see yourself as a consumer? A production professional? An amateur? A member of the “crowd”?

I would say in the early days I was very much a consumer, just trying to make what I was used to seeing from pros. Then I guess I was a member of the crowd, and now, I’m a production professional. It’s working well.

Do you feel particularly close to the brands you create for, like Coca-Cola? How do you explain your success?

I actually feel closer to the brand than the product itself, I think I like what it means to be a ‘brand’, which is probably what drew me to advertising initially. In my head, I’ve created a lot of ads for Coke! It feels like very accessible material to me. In reality, I’ve made two others besides this: One was aimed at teens, with the old themes of school detention and music. It was nice, but more of a learning curve for me. The second one was for Coke Asia:
I like the Asian markets, as they have different interpretations of Western products – and I admire many of their cultures – so I managed to deliver what I think was an entertaining piece of film and well aligned with the brief
I would attribute my success mostly to getting out there and doing stuff. While I have won a fair few contests, I’ve also gotten nowhere in many others. Also okay, maybe some talent, because everyone keeps telling me so.

According to you, what are the best contest platforms out there?

I have participated in the past on for music videos and also eYeka, but mostly I stick with Mofilm. I’m actually not aware of any other platforms that don’t do contests, except maybe Tongal who have a slightly different process. I tend to favor Mofilm because they offer small production grants, the top prizes include an exclusive trip, the chance to network, and if you’re really good, further opportunities. Just winning money to me feels like cheap labour, and with the level of competition and high-end productions rising exponentially, I don’t think that’s necessarily the fairest business solution for all parties.

What was the best contest/project you’ve ever seen? Why?

I mean without being eligible to enter or knowing the ins and outs it, Doritos’ Crash The Superbowl definitely seems to be up there. It’s a fierce contest for sure, but if you’re entering crowdsourced contests, high in your objectives is exposure, and it couldn’t really get much better than that.

According to you, how has the video contest/project landscape evolved?

I think it has shifted away from consumers to be highly dominated by filmmakers
You couldn’t really call it ‘User Generated Content’ anymore as many of these people are semi or fully professional. To be honest I couldn’t tell you any milestones from my perspective, I’m sure there have been a few from the organisers’ though. I suspect the crowdsourcing market will continue to grow but I don’t see its threat to professional production increasing by much more anytime soon. What could happen is the market will split up so for example, brands who want a good bit of film have a pool to draw from (the serious filmmakers), and so do brands who are mainly seeking insights (closer to consumers).

Thank you very much Hugh for your time and answers. I’m honoured to publish your interview here, and wish you the very best for your career as a director!


  1. This trend may be good for brands to cut costs for high quality content, but as far as I am concerned it moves too far away from the true nature and benefit of crowdsoucing. With the proliferation of mobile continuing to open up new and emerging markets and the widespread success of social media, why would a crowdsourcing platform want to ignore this incredibly important transition into a new era of consumer engagement? This is our focus.


    1. Hi Brian. What exactly do you mean by saying that it moves too far away from the true nature of crowdsourcing? What is this true nature? Consumer engagement? If that’s what you mean, I agree with you that there is a form of specialization of crowdsourcing platforms i.e. professionalization of participants. Is that good or bad?


      1. I think each form is valid (crowdsourced consultants vs. pure unfettered crowdsourcing) and each has its own benefits, but I believe the true nature of crowdsourcing elicits this notion of “the crowd”, not a select few. To me, a “select few” is an agency. I see the this trinity of crowdsourcing, social media and marketing as the key to engaging consumers around the world, as they co-create with brands. Isn’t this the bottom line for brands, to engage consumers and increase sales? From a consumer point of view, they get to help shape products and services.

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