What do Iran, Bush vs Gore campaign, and Talenthouse contests have in common?

What do Iran, Bush vs Gore campaign, and Talenthouse contests have in common? You can win a contest without winning the popular vote. Recently, Model Mayhem sent out a site wide announcement to every member. Now you might think the announcement had something to do with all the recent technical problems and what they are doing to address it but no. The announcement was a thinly veiled spam message in the form of a notice informing all members of the a recent winner and conveniently an invite to view the other contest and vote. This is the entire text of the announcement:

We just wanted to pass along some updates around a handful of Model Mayhem and Talenthouse contests:

Congrats to MM’s Guslene Amber

Congratulations to Guslene Amber for winning the recent Talenthouse contest to work with Project Runway’s Jeanie Syfu.  It’s great to see MMer’s get recognized.

Vote for wet n wild Contestants

We have over 2,000 MMers vying to be the next face of wet n wild cosmetics.  Head over to the Talenthouse site any time between March 30th and April 2nd to vote.  Here’s hoping for another MM victory.

Last Call for the Naomi Campbell Competitions

We’re in the final stretches of being able to join the two contests to work with Naomi Campbell.  The submission deadline is April  4th.  There is one contest for models and another for photographers.    We know an MM should take both of these contests so make sure you’re in the running!

MM Team

If this was posted in the forum, it would be locked as spam as was this thread. But if Model Mayhem wants to make money, it’s called a valuable message, not spam. Now I have no problems with a site advertising but let’s not treat members like they have the intelligence of 5 year olds. So looking at the winning entry, something caught my eye. I’ve seen some really great hair stylists on Model Mayhem and looking at the winning profile, well…let’s just say I was puzzled. I went to the Talenthouse website and this is what I saw regarding that particular contest. I see the winning entry got 54 votes while two of the losing entries got 12,610 votes and 8,807 votes. Now I have always known that the Talenthouse votes are pretty much meaningless as they only get the submissions into the semifinals for consideration but I bet most people who enter these contest don’t realize that. The winners are chosen by the host of the contest and they can pretty much ignore all the other votes and choose anyone they want. That’s their prerogative of course but consider the fact that some Talenthouse contest charges 99 cents for each text message vote.  That amounts to a lot of money for votes that have no bearing on the final outcome. According to the Talenthouse website, some of that money may be split with the participating artists. It’s unclear how it is split and that question to Talenthouse went unanswered as of publication.

Now I’m not going to call this a scam as some have done. They do disclose how things are done in the rules section but you have to go digging for it. I would just caution anyone thinking about entering these contest to consider that #1. It will cost your friends 99 cents per vote for some contests and #2. Those votes are meaningless in the final decision process. Keep in mind this basically a work on spec offer repackaged to look like a contest where someone has to pay to vote. The sponsor of the contest owns your intellectual property if you win. Here is how they address intellectual property rights.

Who owns what, and when?
Intellectual property is a serious issue. On Talenthosue members sometimes agree to use owned (e.g. copyrighted materials) presented by the host for use in the Invite. In these cases, the member takes no property interest in the pre-existing property. After completing and submitting an Entry, the member owns the rights to the Entry (although not the rights to the host’s pre-existing property). This is true all the way up until a member’s Entry is selected as the Invite winner. Then, and only then, does the member agree to transfer their rights to that particular Entry over to the host. They do this by executing all of the documentation necessary to transfer the property and the host becomes the sole owner. It must be reiterated, however, that the member never gains any ownership interest in the host’s property. In other words, to use a non-winning Entry which contains a host’s property commercially, the submitting member must obtain the authority of the host. Talenthouse is not responsible for a member’s misuse or infringement upon a host’s property.

I sent Talenthouse some questions and here was their response.

I have some specific questions regarding your contest. In particular this contest which has a declared winner.


1. In this particular contest, how was the winner chosen and who chose the final winner? Was it chosen solely by the host based on any available entries or chosen by the host based on semi final entries. Obviously, it was not based on popular votes.

2. Are there any other means to vote other than to text the votes at 99 cents per vote?

3. In this particular contest, how are those voting revenues split, if at all? Are they split between all entries, winning entries? What is the percentage breakdown?

Your prompt response is very much appreciated.

Dear Pat Yuen,

Thank you for your note and interest in Talenthouse. Please find my answers below:

1. We are constantly redefining our way on how to make the voting process as fair as possible based on our users feedback. The current public voting process is designed to provide an initial pre-selection and the top 20 voted submissions secure their place to be submitted to the host of the Creative Invite to choose the winning submission to work with. Nevertheless the final decision is not based on popular vote alone and in this case Jeanie Syfu was free to work with one of the top 20 contestants but was also encouraged to browse through all other submissions to find the person she feels most comfortable with and wants to provide this opportunity to. As far as I know she made a short list of the most promising candidates and actually met a few in person before making her final decision. It is not on us to pressure any decision upon her and she decided to work with Guslene as the winner of this project. I do understand that projects with only one winning candidate are always kind of delicate and we are working on providing more opportunities for the runner-ups in the future.

2. We have different voting systems and the Jeanie Syfu text message voting was free of charge (not 99 cents). We chose to work with text message voting to prevent voting fraud (fraudulent behavior is much more common/easier with most web/click voting systems).

3. With other more brand oriented projects we established a premium voting (99 cents per vote) and the money earned is then distributed among all participants based on their amount of votes (percentage), see our adidas project for example http://bit.ly/cUF9Uw

Like I said, we officially launched in October 2009 and Talenthouse was founded to provide opportunities to the creative community in the best way we can by bringing together aspiring/up-and-coming artists and creatives with established brands, artists and organizations. Any feedback on how to improve the voting/filtering process is highly appreciated.

Thanks and let me know if you have any further questions.

Best regards, Frederik

Frederik Hermann
Talenthouse Inc.

655 Castro St, Suite 2
Mountain View, CA, 94041

[email protected]
Fax: +1 (888) 661-3954


Just a final note about the Adidas eye wear contest. In the referenced press release, Talenthouse proclaims in the headline that the winner received more than a year of income. That claim is based on Tamir Baasanjav from Ulan Bator, Mongolia receiving 12% of $20,000 or $2,400. That’s not entirely correct. Based on the CIA World Factbook, the GDP for 2009 in Mongolia was $3,200. It’s still a lot of money for someone in Mongolia, not so much for someone in NY or Tokyo.

Those with questions or concerns can post them here.