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Genre Crowdsourcing
Founded 2009
Founder James DeJulio, Rob Salvatore, Mark Burrell
Headquarters Santa Monica, California, United States
Products Film and other production projects
Slogan Creativity Set Free

Tongal is a crowdsourced studio. Founded in 2009 in Santa Monica,[1] the first iteration of Tongal's platform was built via crowdsourcing using TopCoder. The company purports to maintain an online platform that connects businesses in need of creative work with a network of writers, directors, and production companies.[citation needed] Tongal's original methodology for completing projects allows anyone to contribute at any of the steps along the way — from ideation through the production of content. Tongal's global creative community creates TV commercials, original content, digital advertising, and instructional videos.[2] Beyond projects for organizations such as Sundance, Tongal's other clients have included LEGO, Mattel, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and NASA.[3]

Mission and name[edit]

Tongal states that its mission is to bring the world's creative work to the world's creative talent.[4]

Sir Francis Galton was a social scientist highlighted in James Surowiecki's The Wisdom of Crowds. The central thesis of The Wisdom of Crowds is that a diverse collection of people is likely to make certain decisions and predictions better than independently operating individuals or even experts. The opening anecdote relates Galton's surprise that the crowd at the 1906 West of England Fat Stock and Poultry exhibition accurately guessed the weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged. This is how Tongal got the inspiration for its logo (which represents the ox), and its name: "Tongal" is an anagram of "Galton."[5]


Tongal was founded by James DeJulio, Rob Salvatore, and Mark Burrell. The first iteration of Tongal's platform was built via crowdsourcing using TopCoder. Tongal went live and launched its first project on May 20, 2009.

Tongal was listed 205th in the Inc 500 for 2014, which lists the fastest growing companies in the United States.[6] It also won a Gold Medal at the 2014 Edison Awards for Collaboration and Knowledge Management.[7] From 2010 to 2015, Tognal's revenue had doubled five times.[8]

As of 2015, Tongal has a global community of more than 70,000 writers, directors and filmmakers in 140+ countries.[9] In 2015, it had seven films in the Sundance Film Festival, and 41 of its 70,000 workers earned salaries of over six figures.[10]

Platform and process[edit]

Tongal projects are open to anyone with a good idea and any filmmakers with the experience to execute it. Typically, each project is posted onto the website and broken up into three Phases — "Idea," "Pitch" and "Video" — and anyone can contribute at any point.[citation needed]

  • Idea Phase: A business (say, LEGO) posts a project to Tongal with a total prize amount (say, $60,500) to be divvied up over several phases. Members of the Tongal community generate ideas, describing them in 140 characters or less. At the end of this round, the company has 600 to 1,000 ideas to choose from and selects a few they want to see move forward. Each awarded idea wins a few hundred bucks, in this case $500.[11]
  • Pitch Phase: In the next phase, “designed for the more technically skilled members of the community,” directors and production companies pitch on these winning ideas, submitting storyboards, location photos, talent, scripts — anything they think will communicate their vision for the video — as well as their relevant work experience. Tongal gets about 50 pitches for each project.
  • Video Phase: The business reviews these and selects the filmmakers to receive production dollars (in the case of LEGO, $1,000) to shoot the project, thus beginning the video phase. From the finished projects, the business selects the winners, distributing via digital or broadcast outlets and divvying up the rest of the total project's budget, with the first prize getting $19,000, the runner-up $10,450, third $5,700 and so forth.[4]

Notable projects[edit]

An example of Tongal's crowdsourcing approach can be seen with Duck Products' "Stuck On Duck Video Project",[12][13] which featured Jay Maynard aka Tron Guy. Another example can be seen as part of the The Beach Boys' The Smile Sessions, in which fans submitted video concepts, which were voted on and ultimately selected by other fans.[14][15] Another example of Tongal's creative approach can be seen under the demo section of Kiva's French website.[16] Tongal was used to source this instructional video which serves to "explain the process and clarifiy what we're doing and what our mission is."[17] Tongal's other clients include LEGO, Mattel, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson and NASA.[3]

Bands such as The Who and the Beach Boys have had music video contests through Tongal, as well as Bob Marley's estate.[18] Tongal has also done video for Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake through American Greetings Properties.[19] Lucasfilm and Pringles also jointly commissioned Tongal for a commercial,[20] with a total of $75,000 in prize money distributed to seven finalists. In 2012 a Tongal ad for Speed Stick was featured during the live broadcast of the Super Bowl.[21]

Tongal has also had several projects to create original content. Tongal teamed up with Sundance Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create "unique, compelling, and personal short films exploring an empowering person or an optimistic story about individuals and communities who are overcoming poverty and hunger, combating disease, or improving health."[22] The winners each received $10,000 and their films premiered at 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Tongal also partnered with Lionsgate, Women in Film,[23] Facebook, Volvo Cars and the author of the Twilight books Stephenie Meyer to create short films set in the Twilight universe in 2014.[24] Other projects involved Spitfire Pictures.[25]

DirecTV is partnering with Tongal to search for The Next Great American Documentary: a 60-minute film that would air in 2015 on DirecTV’s Audience Network channel. The winning concept, picked from submissions by Tongal’s community of 70,000-plus writers and directors, will have a $50,000 budget.[26]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Nominee Category Result
2014 Edison Awards Tongal Collaboration & Knowledge Management[7] Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dave, Paresh (January 27, 2015). "More big brands are tapping creative crowdsourcing sites". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  3. ^ a b "Tapping The Creativity Of The Crowd With Tongal". 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ Surowiecki, James (2004). The Wisdom of Crowds. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-50386-0. 
  6. ^ "The 2014 Inc. 5000 - Meet the fastest-growing private companies in America". Inc. Magazine. 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  7. ^ a b "2014 Edison Award Winners". Edison Awards. 2014. Retrieved 2015-05-16. 
  8. ^ Courtner, Barry (April 21, 2015). "Home work: offers creatives like Lucas Ridley a new way to make a living (with video)". Times Free Press. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gerdeman, Dina (April 2, 2015). "Digital Initiative Summit: The Business of Crowdsourcing". Harvard Business School. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  11. ^ King, Rachael (February 1, 2011). "Meet the Microworkers". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  12. ^ "$5,000 Ad Contest Yields The Ultimate 'Tron' Cameo". Advertising & Marketing. Adweek. 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  13. ^ "Duck Tron Races On Vimeo, Quickly Gets 268K Views". ClickZ Marketing News & Expert Advice. Incisive Interactive Marketing LLC. 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  14. ^ "Beach Boys Announce Track Listing For 'Smile Sessions'". Rolling Stone. 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  15. ^ "The Beach Boys Crowdsource Videos For "Good Vibrations" and "Heroes & Villains"". Mashable, Inc. 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  16. ^ "Kiva En Francais". Retrieved 2011-10-27. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Ten Minutes With James DeJulio, President and Co-Founder of Tongal". Huff Post Tech. The Huffington Post. 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  18. ^ Brown, Harley (December 4, 2014). "Ben & Jerry's and Tuff Gong Release First Video for 'One Love' and a Bob Marley-Inspired Ice Cream". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  19. ^ Smiley, Minda (October 1, 2014). "Could Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake Be Next Video Stars?". Adage. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  20. ^ DeJulio, James (January 11, 2013). "Call for Star Wars Commercial By Fans, for Fans". Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  21. ^ Dishman, Lydia (2013). "See The Winners of Tongal's Star Wars-Pringles Campaign". Fast to Create. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Women In Film
  24. ^
  25. ^ Raughnder, Ryan (September 22, 2013). "Spitfire Pictures partners with Tongal to crowd-source documentary". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 
  26. ^ Spangler, Todd (March 17, 2015). "DirecTV Teams with Tongal to Crowdsource Documentary Film with $50,000 Budget (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved 2015-05-15. 

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