The Aftermath

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My goodness I've just been dying to blog, but didn't want to dislodge the posts about the contest.

Alas, we've almost certainly not won.  It was a close race....what am I saying, we were blown out of the water.  We came nearly to 5000 votes and there did seem to be alot of support going for it.  I heard from all sorts of friends and acquaintances who told me about all the people who were voting, or to whom they had forwarded the information.  There was of course the 2 articles that were published, and a third from an online news outlet. CHCH never did even respond.  That was disappointing.

At the risk of sounding like sour grapes, it all seemed rather suspicious though.  There were 3 videos at the top of the page (more on that later) who were far ahead from the very start.  In fact, between 3:30pm when I had last checked the Kraft site on the day the finalists were announced (they hadn't at that point) and about 9pm when I could next get on my computer, those top three had already amassed hundreds of votes.  Ours had half a dozen.  I quickly got on FB, email, twitter and a few other online outlets and got the word out.  Our video slowly started to pick up.  We averaged about 200 votes a day.  The top three would get 2-3 times that.
After the articles came out, I had alot of hope it would really pick up, and it did.  But not enough.  While our video picked up closer to a thousand votes a day over the last 3-4 days of the contest, the top three, narrowed now to two, picked up 2-3 thousand per day.  Many people expressed to me that our video was definitely the cutest.  Not as polished and edited as two of the top three perhaps, but REAL.  And about PEOPLE, not animals.  The two that ended up neck and neck by the last day climbed dramatically in votes those last hours.  So quickly and consistently did those votes come in, that many have suspected they might have been inflated artificially.

I imagine however, that we'll never know.  I haven't even been able to bring myself to look at the site again, to see which video actually won.  I figure if by some miracle our video still won, Kraft would contact us, as the rules said they would.

I felt throughout the contest that it wasn't a fair playing field.  With 10 videos picked as finalists, Kraft arranged the rather large thumbnails on the Spread the Feeling site.  This meant however, that about four videos were immediately in view as soon as you arrived at the site.  The other 6 you had to scroll down to see.  Ours was the very bottom one on the right hand side.  Can you see why all was not fair in love and peanut butter?  The imbalance was obvious as the videos at the top were viewed in excess of 10,000 times, while ours was viewed only 5-6,000 times.  I emailed Kraft twice during the 2 weeks of voting politely and respectfully requesting they rotate the videos.  I received canned responses both times.

If there's one thing I have become thoroughly sick and tired of, it's the passivity of your average computer user.  Yes, we did have a great show of support for the video and the reason we were attempting to win the contest.  But there was also a whole lot of people who ignored us.

I have a little over 400 'friends' on Facebook, and this was the main outlet I relied on to spread the word.  I figured that if we could get people to share it on their walls, our impact would multiply exponentially.  And many did.
Because of the recent changes to the FB platform, it's now impossible to send a message to groups of people.  I used to be able to make a list of 20 people and send them all the same message.  Can't do that anymore.  So instead, I created an event and invited ALL of my friends to it.  Then my friend Cari added her list to the event too.  So that made in excess of 800 people invited to our 'event'.
I made it clear that this wasn't something to attend, but just a call to vote and share the information.  I was rather shocked when people started responding and I quickly had about 1/2 a dozen who clicked 'not attending'.  Not attending!?  You have a problem with your hand that it can't click a few more times to vote for the video!?  This so bothered me that I actually went to the walls of these people and in a very friendly way, reminded them that this wasn't an event they had to attend and I would really appreciate their support.  Some responded that it had been a mistake, or just how they 'manage' their FB invites.  Others just didn't respond.  Same with those who had clicked 'maybe attending'.
And then there were those that responded positively.  Out of more than 800 invites, 101 people clicked 'attending'.  Not even 10%.
On the Friday before the contest ended (on a Monday) I was starting to get desperate.  I decided to personally FB message all my friends.  It took hours and I got to about the J's when I started skimming and skipping.  I probably sent messages to close to 200 friends.  I got perhaps 20-30 responses.

Since when has it become acceptable to completely ignore a personal message from someone you consider a friend?

I tried to keep in mind that people might have been voting and not just letting me know, not responding to the event invite, my emails or my private messages.  A few people I messaged did respond that they had been voting, or had at least voted once.  I tried to keep in mind that it was voting that was the important thing, not letting me know they were voting.  But with so few responses and the votes still lagging behind the top videos, it was, at times,discouraging to have so few speaking out.

In the end however, the most important thing is that the money was provided.  Through a completely different means, the thousands of dollars needed for Esme to have her therapy came through.  I thank and praise God for this.  And next week, Jairus starts his therapy, thanks to many other amazing and generous people.  I know this is a glass-half-empty or half-full thing.  I could focus on the emails, messages, phonecalls and face to face messages from the many who supported us.  Or I could focus on the hundreds who didn't.  I waffle and find myself doing both.

And as much as I did all of it out of obedience to God and love for Tamara, I will certainly think long and hard before embarking on anything else that will require me to reach out and ask alot of people to help out.

C'mon Hamilton, step up here!

Friday, October 7, 2011

We're down to the last few days of the Kraft Peanut Butter contest.  We've seen some amazing things happen---an article was published in the Spectator and the Mountain News, but still, The Night Raider lags in fourth place, the winning video showing twice as many votes as ours.  But there's still 3 days left to win this for Esme! Here's the articles from both newspapers:

Paying it forward with peanut power

The Kents, at right - Leslie and James and their children Honour, Afton, Verity, and Jairus, front right. They want to help out the Youngberg family, left - Tamara, Jason, their son William, and daughet Esme, front.
Peanut Butter Contest The Kents, at right - Leslie and James and their children Honour, Afton, Verity, and Jairus, front right. They want to help out the Youngberg family, left - Tamara, Jason, their son William, and daughet Esme, front.
Cathie Coward/The Hamilton Spectator
Local acts of goodwill helped pay for Jairus Kent’s medical treatment. Now, the 10-year-old’s family hopes some goodwill of their own can help another child.
Jairus, 10, was born with Pierre Robin Sequence, which causes a cleft palate and underdeveloped jaw. Jairus is largely nonverbal, speaking at a 21-month-old level. Beginning Tomatis therapy to improve his audio and listening skills costs $5,000.
While applying to charities for assistance, Jairus’s parents Leslie and James Kent signed up for Kraft’s online contest encouraging people to display their love of peanut butter in a short video.
They entered because Jairus is a“peanut butter freak,” Leslie said, and the grand prize winner receives $10,000.
Two days before their video was named one of the 10 finalists, Mountain Citadel Salvation Army on Stone Church Road East surprised them with a fundraiser that helped cover most of the cost of starting Jairus’s Tomatis therapy. The Astley Family Foundation pitched in with a donation to cover the remaining costs.
That gave the Kents a chance at helping someone else.
If they win, the Kents will give the money to Tamara and Jason Youngberg to help their daughter, Esme, who also faces expensive medical treatments.
Tamara has been a big part of the Kents’ life as the midwife who delivered their four children. She operates Access Midwives in Stoney Creek, and the two mothers have remained close over the past decade.
Eight-year-old Esme was born with albinism and later developed epilepsy and autism. The cost of Esme’s autism treatment, at the renowned Son-Rise Program based in Massachusetts, is roughly $20,000, Tamara said.
“There’s such a strain on yourself when you’re trying to get that help for your child but aren’t able to because of financial restraints,” Leslie said.
Tamara resisted at first, telling Leslie she would think about her offer of help.
“But at the same time I don’t think she would take no for an answer,” Tamara said with a laugh.
She was hesitant to ask for help since she earns decent money, and took on a second job selling jewellery at house parties “so I can feel like I’ve worked for it,” Tamara said.
If they win the grand prize, Leslie says she’ll be thrilled.
“To have seen the joy (Tamara) has brought to people by bringing their children into the world, and then to see what’s happened with her and her own child … this would be really amazing.”
The whole situation has been overwhelming for Tamara, who says regardless of the outcome, the fact the Kents are willing to do this is remarkable.
“It’s my hope that one day, when my daughter has recovered, I could give to someone else in the same way,” she said.
You can vote for Jairus’s video, entitled TheNightRaider, by going to the PB&__ Video Contest Voting closes Monday, Oct. 10.
Family hopes pantry raid video will help a friend
photo by Gord Bowes
By Gord Bowes, News staff
The video is an exaggeration, but it’s not far off the mark, says Leslie Kent.
Her son, Jairus, really does sneak into the pantry for spoonfuls of peanut butter, but not usually under cover of the night sounding like a cat burglar.
“I’ll get up for breakfast and there will be a spoon stuck in the top of the peanut butter,” says Kent.
So when the mother of four saw a commercial back in June for Kraft’s Spread the Feeling video contest, she quickly knew they might have a winner.
“As soon as I saw it, I thought my son would be perfect for it,” says Kent.
They filmed the 33-second entry, which shows Jairus sneaking peanut butter out of the pantry of the family’s west Mountain home in the middle of the night, in just two takes.
The goal at first was to win the $10,000 prize to help pay for special therapy for Jairus, who was born with Pierre Robin sequence.
The condition, which resulted in a cleft palate and small lower jaw, has left Jairus with limited speech. The therapy is designed to help him speak clearly.
But between the time the Kent family entered the video contest and making it to the final 10, their church, Mountain Citadel of the Salvation Army, had raised the money for Jairus’s therapy.
Now they are hoping to win so they can donate the money to Kent’s friend and midwife, Tamara Youngberg, and her daughter Esme, who was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and autism.
“I think for someone who has given so much to Hamilton, (donating the prize money) is an easy thing to do,” says Kent.
Jairus attends Gordon Price, where his peers are encouraging him and voting in the contest daily to help him out.
As of Monday, the Jairus’s video, The Night Raider, trailed in fifth place. The Spread the Feeling contest ends Monday, Oct. 10.
Votes can be placed at