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14 Jun 2013

Lights! Camera! Commercial! The Center Launches a 60-Second Commercial Contest

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Shann Carr thinks that The Center—the Coachella Valley’s community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks—is grossly underutilized.

She says that when she discusses The Center with locals who are L, G, B or T, she learns that a shocking number of them aren’t familiar with the services it provides. “Half of them have never even been here,” says the center’s volunteer and community outreach coordinator.

Therefore, she’s decided that it’s time for The Center to get the word out—and that’s where its Commercial-Making Contest comes in.

(Disclosure time: I’ve helped Shann and her “secret meeting volunteers” here and there as they got the contest off the ground—and the Coachella Valley Independent is a sponsor of the contest. That's just how we roll.)

The rules for the contest, which can be found at thecenterps.org, are pretty simple: Anybody can sign up for the contest, and winners will be selected in two categories: One category is for the general public (i.e. anybody, from anywhere); and another is for students between the ages of 14 and 25 who have been enrolled in a school of some sort within the last year. Submissions of the 60-second commercials are due on Wednesday, July 10, and the winners in each category get $1,000 each.

And to make it even more simple, after contestants sign up for the contest via thecenterps.org, they’ll get an link to a resource kit containing pictures, PDFs, video clips and more that can be used in the 60-second spots. And if that isn’t enough, The Center and its NestEggg Food Bank will be open for contestants to come by and shoot their own footage each Thursday (preferably before noon) between now and the July 10 deadline.

So why a 60-second commercial contest?

“Because tiny bits of information are how people communicate now. Sixty seconds is as long as anyone will stare at anything anymore,” Carr laughs.

The Center hopes to use the winning commercials online, as public-service announcements on local stations, and at the numerous local festivals and events where The Center has a presence. The ultimate goal: for more people to know about all of the services The Center provides, from health-and-wellness activities to job-training to a computer center.

The entries are starting to trickle in, Carr says—and they include one contestant who plans on making the commercial using only a smartphone. However, she’s hoping for a larger turnout of contestants—especially in the student category.

“Some people won’t read an article, but they’ll click on a 60-second ad. It’s the lazy person’s article,” Carr says.

To enter or receive more information, head on over to thecenterps.org.

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