Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Subjective competitions...bah humbug

12:00 pm. Sept. 8, 2009.

After a week of intense anticipation, we just discovered that our family's video submission for Great Wolf Lodge did not make Round 2 of the competition. It would be fair to say that we are a little shell shocked right now.

Great Wolf Lodge is our happy place. We have been there eight times since the first Lodge appeared on Canadian soil in 2006. I still have five wrist bands on my arm to mark some of those visits. GWL manages to do what few places can: Entertain my 15-year old and my 7-year old at the same time, while not neglecting my 12-year old, or Heidi and I. It truly is fun for the whole family and has provided us with fantastic memories. In fact, it was at Great Wolf Lodge that I won the annual Father's Day Challenge...twice. As a result, I am the reigning "World's Greatest Dad", a title that I will defend with great fervour next June. We love that place.

When we first heard about the, "Why I Love Great Wolf Lodge" contest, and it's four 2-night stays (meals included) Grand Prize, you can imagine how excited each of us were at the possibility. After all, we really love the lodge AND it was a video contest, a medium that I love immensely. It seemed like the perfect contest for us.

When our entry was finally submitted, we really believed that we would, at the very least, get past Round 1. There were 80+ entries and we felt that ours was, easily, in the top 12. As the comments started coming in, our hope only solidified. So many people, who had seen our video, had great things to say and it wasn't just coming from family and friends. Also, not only was our entry getting some great reviews on it's own, it seemed to be stacking up strong against the other videos in the competition.

However, we were also very aware that the judges would be picking only one from each lodge, to advance. This was good and bad. It was good for many of the videos, because it narrowed the field. You just had to be the best in your grouping. But it was bad for us, because we didn't feel the need to have the field narrowed. Technically, under these conditions, a video could be deemed the 2nd best video in the entire contest and still NOT make the next round, if another entry from their group was considered the best overall. Good enough to get in...but not getting in. That was not an attractive prospect.

We don't know (and never will) where we ranked on the judges score sheets, but we really do think our video should be in the finals. We thought we had nailed all of the judging criteria, but that's the problem...with judges, you just never know. Subjective competitions can be incredibly irritating. I feel like a figure skater who got 9's across the board until the Russian judge dropped a 7..."What? Are you kidding me!?" I will not lie...we are really disappointed at the moment.

Now, I'm okay with feeling disappointed, but it's the second guessing that has surfaced, along with the disappointment, that I am presently trying to fight off. You see, I don't want to second guess any of it. It just isn't helpful. Before the results were posted...we believed our video had a real solid chance. I knew our entry wasn't perfect (which has kept many other projects from seeing the light of day), but I really liked it...a lot.

I liked the concept. I liked the balance and the pace. It looked and sounded crisp and had a nice blend of "staging" with "real" home video footage. We even had cute AND funny (a dynamic duo). I can honestly say that it ended up being almost exactly what I envisioned, when I first set out to plan the project. And deep down I know that there isn't much more we could've done or would've done differently. It's a really solid piece of work and it was, definitely, the best we could do at the time. That's all you can ask for, right? Right! Maybe...okay...right.

Week one was spent on "set", which remained intact for almost the entire seven days. This was a family sacrifice, because we had all of our house lamps set up for lighting...which left the other rooms in the house a little on the dark side. But everyone was cool with it. Aliyah and Connor were amazing. We've filmed short videos before, but they'd never been through anything like this. With Heidi on the camera (a new task for her), we had everyone wired up with mics. They did sound checks. They repeated their lines, take after take...after take. They were sweating away, because of the lights - which were pushed real close, just off camera. We shot our footage over three evenings, and they embraced every minute of it. I'm very proud of them. They worked so hard.

The second week was spent editing and capturing the footage that didn't need our "set". The kids were in heaven! When else would they be able to dump buckets of water in the dining room and throw shoes at Dad's head, and not get in trouble?

Having posted the video, promotion took most of week three. We called on our social network, over and over...and over. We were aware that we had entered the game, later than most, so we assumed "views" would be our weak point. But we watched in awe as our family and friends embraced our project as much as we had. We figured, with a week until deadline, 3o0 views would put us in a reasonable spot, but the deadline came and we had over 1100 views! What we found more astounding was that half of those were "unique" viewers, and our video had been seen in over 15 countries on six continents. The social network had obviously expanded way beyond our contacts. Absolutely amazing!

Week four we waited, and today...the wait ended. Actually, it was more like, the "weight" ended... on my head. It was a crushing blow.

Now, for the therapeutic part of the story. Despite no longer being eligible for our dream prize, I will concede that it was an absolutely incredible four week journey for our family. It was truly, by all accounts, a family project. By the family...For the family! Win or lose, that's what it was always about: Family. Sure, we wanted to win some free stays at the Lodge, but we still came away with something amazing. A two-minute video with hours and hours of great memories packed into it. It was yet another great family experience to add to the Boyle vault. An experience more precious than the prize itself would have been...

...or so my therapist says.

Have a good one,

P.S. Thanks to all of our friends and family who supported us in the process. If you haven't seen the video yet, here it is: "A Dad's Tale"

To see who advanced go to - I hope a really nice family wins.


  1. Mr. Boyle,
    I want to personally thank you and your family for your submission to our “Why I Love Great Wolf Lodge” video contest. Your creativity and passion for our brand certainly shine through. We were blown away by the innovation and effort that went into all the video entries, yours very much included (especially the part where you took a shoe to the head. Hopefully you nailed that on the first take!).

    As you mentioned in your post, the structure of the contest was in fact such that one finalist would be determined for each of our Lodges (with one catch-all category for non-property specific entries). Going back to the conception of the contest idea, the structure was something we debated. Ultimately we decided on the existing structure to best represent our guest’s perspectives for our entire family of Lodges in North America. And we did our best to make this very clear both in the Terms & Conditions, and even the video intro during Round 1. You raise a great point, however, and we’ll take it into consideration as we move forward with similar executions in the future.

    Lastly, please accept our sincere gratitude for your loyalty to our brand. We hope that eight stays with us conveys how much you and your family value the guest experience. We look forward to the opportunity to welcome you and your family back to the Lodge a 9th time.

    Thanks and Regards,

    Chris LaScala
    Corporate Director of Marketing
    Great Wolf Resorts

  2. The internet is freaky. They found my blog :)
    Hopefully they keep reading it.

    Thanks Chris for the response. We still love the Lodge. 9th visit coming up!

  3. i think if I had more than just a profile shot that you may have had the best video - - oh well, maybe inthe next contest. very cool to have GWL actually respond to this blog post.


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