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The organizers of thought-sparking TED conferences, known for changing the way people look at life, are challenging advertisers to do the same.

In a spin on its mantra of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” TED on Tuesday launched an “Ads Worth Spreading” contest that offers winners access to the global online stage for advertisements that inspire and engage audiences.

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“We want to encourage development of ads-with-a-difference,” said TED ‘curator’ Chris Anderson of non-profit Sapling Foundation. “Ads that engage our audience authentically, intelligently, delightfully. Ads that people will want to share because, like the rest of TED, they encapsulate ideas worth spreading.”

Digital video ad campaigns ranging from 30 seconds to five minutes in length can be submitted to TED until January 10, 2011. Details regarding video ad submissions are available online at

Judges will select ten or fewer winners, with the videos debuting at a TED gathering of more than 1 500 “thought leaders” in Long Beach, California from February 28 through March 4 of next year.

Winning ads will also appear at for a week in March to be rated, commented on, and hopefully shared by the millions of people that visit the website for videos of TED Talks.

TED talks have won legions of followers on the internet and have spread to television stations around the world.

The TED Open TV Project announced in San Francisco early this year marked the latest step in a transformation from a private gathering of brilliant minds to a public platform for people worldwide to collaborate on worthy ideas.

Annual Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conferences began 30 years ago in California as havens where elite thinkers got together to explore life from challenging or unusual perspectives.

Renowned scientists, political leaders, artists, entrepreneurs and musicians have taken to the stage at the technology-focused gatherings.

Anderson urges speakers to give the “talk of their lives” in 18 minutes.

In 2006, TED began making video recordings of talks available free online at a website, spreading ideas from the conference free to a global audience.

Last year TED opened its doors even wider by enlisting volunteers to translate talks into scores of languages and allowing private groups to host spin-off gatherings called TEDx events.

While TED is known for grappling with bold subjects such as saving the world’s oceans, its talks run the gamut of topics from whether genes should get credit for genius to a brain scientist recounting her own stroke. – AFP

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