As a pharmaceutical marketing manager, Laurence Wolf had the unenviable task of trying to de-stigmatise herpes, but there was one major roadblock on an already bumpy road: the industry cannot directly advertise to consumers.
So they launched on online film competition, awarding AU$10,000 for the best 30-second short film that helped to de-stigmatise the virus.
Over 120 budding film-makers responded.
"Amazing and engaging content for such an awkward and unsexy subject," Wolf said. "I thought if we could do that for herpes, we could do it for anything.
"Enter Brand Honee."
Wolf founded Australia's first online video competitions website with business partner Simon Gillson. Since launch on August 22, two brands have awarded prizes to the best entries — including a competition to promote local startup Arribaa — and another two projects are due for completion by year's end. There are over 300 film-makers and more than 1,000 voters, whose votes don't actually count for anything.
The site will hand out AU$28,000 to competition winners. In turn, it charges the brands and agencies a fee to host the competitions.
Wolf describes it as "peer-to-peer" advertising.
"It challenges the model that only a select few can create brand messaging, and at the same time empowers the end user to create messaging that will speak to their audience."
He has taken a proven overseas model and become the first to launch it in Australia — or so Wolf claims. It's a solid business model, because companies can afford to spend a couple of grand to crowd source content, and as a bonus access "free" intellectual property and market research.
It's difficult to scale, because it has to appeal to more brands. It will definitely face the NoSpec criticisms that are levelled against design competition websites that this model is a form of creative bondage.
The site can develop strong relationships with brands and creative people. Wolf has also spoken about applying different business models and franchises to grow revenue.
Another company will no doubt replicate this business model. No creative competition website has properly addressed the accusations of slave labour.
Brand Honee has already successfully carved out a nice little niche in the Australian creative community, but it's difficult to see how it scales beyond this. The best opportunity is to offer these services to digital advertising agencies and big brands.