Joel Moss Levinson always knew he had a calling in life. But it took cheap video cameras, YouTube and some desperate corporations to show him what it was.
Levinson’s skill is turning out homemade corporate commercials – what advertisers call a form of “user-generated content.” Companies, frantic to connect with younger consumers, sponsor contests seeking these commercials to find new ways to advertise their products, often attracting hundreds of entries and lots of attention.
So far, Levinson, a college dropout with dozens of failed jobs on his rÃ©sumÃ©, has won 11 contests – earning more than $200,000 in money and prizes. His success has made him into the digital age version of Evelyn Ryan, the woman from Defiance, Ohio, who supported her family by winning commercial jingle contests in the 1950s and ’60s.
While Mrs. Ryan’s talent was in writing, Levinson’s is in performing. He won $100,000 from Klondike after filming himself in the Arctic singing about Klondike bars. He won four months worth of free hotel stays from Best Western for a song he performed about his water cooler. When Little Penguin wine asked customers to film their best pickup line, Mr. Levinson submitted a video of his efforts to pick up a toy penguin, and won a trip to Australia.
Photo by Joel Levinson.
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