BiTE’s buzz-worthy Red Carpet app and the long road to the Oscars

We wanted to create an Oscars app that would integrated seamlessly with Netflix, find local movie times, show trailers and allow users to rate movies. It would also be a social event, letting users tweet, post to Facebook, select the winner for each category and use it as a “second screen” to get live, in-app updates and news throughout the pre-show and entire ceremony. Then we came up with something really exciting: what if we put every user into an Oscar pool and offered a prize to the winners? And not just any prize, but a chance to win $1 million? It was an large-scale, ambitious logistical and technical project. We had to build a secure back end, create a flawless, full-featured iOS client, secure the prize money, certify the sweepstakes in all 50 states and get the app approved by Apple, all before the stars began to arrive.


There had never before been a contest app on the App Store. Would Apple go for it? We combed through Apple’s developer agreements, hunted for rumors and got the ‘okay’ from our legal team. It was clear: Apple didn’t have any rules excluding contests, so the real work began. We worked tirelessly to secure the prize and ensure the contest conformed to all laws and regulations in every state. It was a huge undertaking, alongside the creation of a sophisticated and secure back-end server and the complex integration of third-party APIs and cutting-edge features for the iOS client. But we managed it, and created an app that would take people from pre-Oscar buzz, to live updates on the night itself, to post-Oscar results (and hopefully give someone a check for $1 million).


When we submitted the app to Apple, we were surprised and horrified to hear it had been rejected because contests weren’t allowed due to an “unwritten policy”. We knew Apple was just protecting their users from potentially illegal sweepstakes and contests. But that wasn’t us and we were devastated. Luckily, giving up isn’t in BiTE’s makeup, so we called, emailed, called again (and again), slowly working our way up the ladder and navigating past the repeated “no”s. With the night of the Oscars only weeks away, the pressure increased each hour we got closer to the app’s hard expiration date: Oscar night. Our absolute tenacity finally paid off when we reached an ally on the Review Committee who offered to plead our case. And with our ally’s help we did so, successfully. Not only was The Red Carpet App place on sale on the App Store, it was featured by Apple -- twice. And just in time for the big night. We went from devastation to elation. We didn’t just get our app listed in the store, we changed policy at Apple, convincing them to officially allow contests and use our app as a model.

We didn’t just get our app listed in the store, we changed policy at Apple.

Red Carpet iphone app


With so much work having gone into this app, we were sure it would be a blockbuster. But yet when the release finally came, consumers responded with a resounding shrug. Tragedy, right? Not at all. Though a commercial flop, we were covered by the New York Times, CBS News and many more giving BiTE incredible exposure. Our app was critically acclaimed, technically groundbreaking and led to lasting and invaluable relationships with Apple’s Review Committee. Above all this groundbreaking ‘flop’ directly lead to us landing Infiniti, NASA and H&R Block as clients, laying the foundation for our six years’ of stellar success. We carried the principles of tenacity and calm in the face of crisis to everything we’ve done since. We’re enormously proud of the Red Carpet app, and for us it has been a very happy ending.