It was there, it was gone, now it’s back.
A team of students and alumni from California Institute of the Arts in Valencia decided to take the Walmart challenge and enter their video in a contest. They sent in the video and it was accepted – but then Walmart nixed it until Arianna Huffingon publicized the decision.
Now, a press release from CalArts says the video has gone viral.
Here’s what happened.
The nation’s largest retail chain announced Jan. 19 it was inviting small businesses to create a video promoting a product not sold by Walmart. Called “Get on the Shelf,” the idea was that the public could vote on the videos they like, and Walmart would stock the winning products.
Jacqueline Brandwynne is a former CalArts trustee and a small businesswoman. She’s got a new line of women’s personal care products called Very Private. Her lead product is an FDA-approved moisturizer that eliminates vaginal dryness.
So Ian Samuels, a fellow alumus of CalArts, decided to direct a video promoting Brandwynne’s moisturizer and enter it in the Walmart challenge. Samuels enlisted a team of CalArts students to help produce the video. He named the production company “I Have a Headache.”
They sent in the video and the people running the competition accepted it.
But then a higher-up at Walmart saw it and, with no explanation to the producers, pulled it from the company’s website right before the contest was to go “live.”
It’s not as if the video were poorly done.
“This ‘Very Private’ video is so clever and well-shot. I love it. The video deserves to win the Walmart challenge,” said Sherry Lansing, former chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures.
Apparently it was just too edgy. In the video, three couples use the product and the video ends with a woman calling a clearly exhausted man back to bed.
Perhaps that was the trouble. At least, that’s what a Walmart spokesman told The Huffington Post.
“We didn’t think it was in Walmart’s taste,” the spokesman said. “Basically the last five seconds.”
WalMart carries Trojan and Durex personal products, the spokesman told HuffPost, so it wasn’t the nature of the Brandwynne’s moisturizer itself that sent up the red flag.
Samuels didn’t think the content of the video was problematic.
“We wanted it to be acceptable to any audience – something that a kid could watch, something that could play on TV or the Internet without controversy,” he told HuffPost.
The contest opened March 7 and the video advertising Very Private wasn’t in it. The Huffington Post story ran March 9. A few days later, the video link was active again.
According to the CalArts Public Affairs office, in addition to Samuels, “additional alumni who worked on the video are director of photography Norbert Shieh, sound technician Rich Gavin, production designer Rachel Gold and grips Michael Meehan and Goray Kalyan. Current student Raskika Ruwanpathirana served as assistant camera operator. The catchy tango music was composed for the spot by the talented due of Liz Myers and John Trivers of Trivers/Myers Music.”
“Don’t forget to vote,” CalArts implores in the press release.
Voting continues through April 3. Ten winners will advance to a second round. Then, the top three will have a shot at selling their products in Walmart stores and on its website. To vote for the CalArts student video, click here.