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Cheap Way to Make Cheaptickets Ad

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CheapTickets.com celebrates penny pinching, and it apparently practices what it preaches.

The company launched "Too Cheap to Advertise",an online campaign where it solicited 30-second commercials from the public (for free!) in exchange for $50,000 in free travel (no cash upfront!).

"Cheap is an attitude," the company says, adding that customers embrace it, "so who better to create a commercial?"

The winner is Brendan Walsh, a film student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. His ad, called "Fishing Season", highlights really, really, REALLY cheap travel.

"After I came across the promotion, I had a dream about a commercial I entered for the contest," Walsh tells me. The dream: "A man trying to fly an early 1900's plane off of his roof, saying he was saving money on tickets, and in the dream I went into my Dad's garage and found all the parts to make the plane. I woke up the next morning at 6:00am, went into the garage and found everything I needed to make the video."

The entire enterprise took five days — "I think building the wings took the longest, because I couldn't stop putting them on just to see how sweet my reflection looked!"

CheapTickets.com, owned by Orbitz , says over 100,000 people logged onto the contest and voted on the ads. The company says producing a real 30-second ad like this might cost it $500,000. How much money did it cost Walsh? "I was FLAT BROKE when I was working on pre-production, and the first draft of the wings only had one tiny string of feathers," he says.

"When I finally divulged the idea to my crew and cast—i.e., friends and brother—they all laughed because I told them I couldn't afford to feather the whole mechanism. My brother actually spent about $50 on feathers just so that I could finish the project, but other than that, I put the ad together on virtually NO budget!"

Walsh hopes to use his $50,000 in free travel to jump-start a non-profit he and his brother, Ryan, have developed called CornerBrook Studios. They hope to film and post online stories about missions around the world to better connect them with potential donors. His first trip? "Haiti, to visit an orphanage."

Who knew being cheap could be so richly rewarding?

Meantime, here's a runner up, called "Hotel Pregnant". It's a hilarious take on the difference between men and women.

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