By September 11, 2012on
There’s been a huge trend towards online voting competitions and many of our clients are keen to introduce this type of prize promotion into their marketing plans. Here at Spark & Fuse, however, we are less keen on this genre and warn anyone considering implementing a voting competition to proceed with caution. The fact is they spell trouble. Voting competitions are plagued with problems that most promoters either have not considered or of which they simply are not aware. The outcome is often far from what may otherwise be expected – disappointed customers, loads of complaints and negative feedback across all social media. Some really big brands, like Yazoo, Co-op and 118 118, have already experienced first-hand the difficulties of running such a campaign.
To run a voting competition without issue is possible but help from an experienced third party is essential. It’s something we know about at Spark & Fuse and advise our clients that if their brand is looking to create a positive customer interaction, they must give the promotion great thought, compile extremely robust terms and conditions, a well built back-end, and allow plenty of time post promotion to research entrants/winners. In short, voting competitions should not be considered lightly, created within a short timeframe or produced without a budget.
We were planning a blog to outline some of the problems with voting competitions, but our good friend and comping blogger Di Coke, has recently written a great piece on the flaws of this very subject – so here’s a link for you to see for yourself what can go wrong.
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By July 25, 2012on
We’ve seen a rise in creative competitions that request for entries to be pinned to Pinterest, or uploaded to a Facebook page or a website gallery. While it might not fit your marketing requirements, making competition entries public before the closing date breaches the CAP code – the rule book for how prize promotions in the UK must be conducted.
‘What? Why?’ you’re probably shouting (our best practise advice on this particular subject is generally met with some surprise). Put simply, competitions which are conducted in this way are unfair. If everyone can see entries as they are posted, the competition ceases to be a level playing field. Those people that enter at the beginning may have had an original idea but there will always be others that just use these entries for inspiration and submit a similar yet improved version, while some contestants will wait until just before the closing date to see what has already been submitted then use this to their advantage to upload something better and unique to improve their chances of winning.
The CAP code states that ‘Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably…. must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.’
There is nothing equitable about a competition where everyone can see entries as they are submitted. It doesn’t matter if you’re asking contestants to upload a recipe, or a photo, or even just leave comment, if you are judging these entries against a set criteria, the principle remains the same. To avoid contestants complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority, or complaining loudly on social media sites and forums, ensure all entries to your competition are not received in an open forum. You can put them all online the minute the competition closes, even if they haven’t been judged.
- CAP code, competition, competition terms and conditions, photography competition, recipe competition
By July 11, 2012on
Not only must a prize promotion in the UK adhere to the CAP code, if it’s on Facebook, it must also meet regulations set by Facebook, too. And if you breach its terms, you could find your page is removed. And we don’t want that, do we! Not everyone is aware that Facebook has its own regulations, so we’ve put together a little summary which will help you to get it right.
First and foremost, you cannot run a prize promotion from your wall. Facebook stipulates that you must use a third party application to build and administer your promotion. This means you have to add a tab to your page from which your run the prize promotion. Don’t panic if this sounds like an enormous and expensive coding job. There are loads of apps online which you can download to help administer your prize promotion. Here are just a few: Wildfire, Snapapp, Strutta and Shortstack.
Once you’ve built this prize promotion platform, the only functionality you can use as a condition of entry is either liking the page, checking in to a place or connecting to your app.
What you can categorically not do is use liking your wall post, leaving a comment on your wall or uploading an image to your wall as a means of entry or condition of registration. And this is where most promoters fall foul of the regulations. You can ask entrants to do any of these things as part of the process but it cannot be the actual entry – entrants must leave their details via the lovely app you’ve built. Otherwise how can you tell the difference between someone just liking your page because they like it, or because they are entering your prize promotion?
To see the do’s and don’ts for yourself, the full regulations can be found here: www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php
Good luck with your prize promotion!
- CAP code, competition terms and conditions, compliance, facebook, prize draw rules, regulations, rules, terms and conditions
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By May 10, 2012on
Only two sleeps until Cybher 2012! We’ve polished our talk (and our shoes) and now we’re feeling excited (and actually quite a bit nervous) about the big day. We’re so excited and honoured to be included in such an impressive line up of speakers.
In keeping with the title given to us by @Geekisnewchic as ‘Competition Gurus’ we want to make sure that everyone who comes to hear us talk leaves with lots of best practice advise and the confidence to run a prize promotion properly. We’ll have some handy postcards with top tips for you to take away, too. We’re looking forward to meeting Di Coke as we’ll be taking the stage with her and we can’t wait to meet all our Twitter friends!
Love Spark & Fuse x
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By April 2, 2012on
Recently we asked the people of Twitter what product they would most like to win. The response was unanimous – an iPad. Equally, the one product used predominantly as a prize incentive at the moment, not only on Twitter but in other digital space too, is an iPad. Promoters are well-tuned into the public’s continuing desire for Apple’s latest product and how it can be used to generate a good response to promotions. But are promoters actually allowed to offer an iPad as a prize?
The answer is, no. Well, not if you ask Apple. It’s old news that Apple does not give permission for anyone to give away its latest iPad and iPhone models and that it will enforce this rule. In the first instance Apple will not sell these products if the sole purpose is a prize promotion and anyone who buys a quantity of units is likely to raise suspicion at Apple HQ and will be denied further purchasing rights.
Protecting the exclusiveness of a brand is fair play, but we would argue that once you’ve paid for a product it’s yours to do with as you will, as long as you don’t imply the brand is actually endorsing the giveaway or break any laws. However, we do believe that it is for these very reasons you should proceed with caution before going ahead with an Apple product giveaway.
For those products which Apple does permit third-party promotional activity, a set of detailed instructions is available as to how these promotions can or cannot look. Like all big companies, Apple controls the way its brand image is used, which is absolutely their prerogative. If your product giveaway is authorised, you can use the Apple logo and make reference to the product in its entirety. If your giveaway is not authorised, you can’t use anything which has been Trademark protected – such as the Apple logo or the word iPad. We’re not lawyers and neither do we claim to be experts in this area, and it’s quite possible we’ve oversimplified the matter, but making your promotion look as though it has been enforced by Apple, or using their icons without permission would breach The Trade Marks Act 1994. It is via this route that Apple could enforce its rule and promoters could find themselves in trouble.
Apple has been known to sue on grounds of breach of trademark but we do not know if it is actively pursuing misuse under these circumstances. We do know though that every day there are a huge number of promotions offering much coveted Apple products as prizes and all promoters should be aware of The Trade Marks Act 1994 before deciding whether or not to offer one as a prize.
We’d love to know what you think, especially if you’re giving away an iPad or iPhone. And we’d be keen on feedback from anyone better qualified to comment on trademark laws – are we right?
- Competition management, competition rules, competition terms and conditions, compliance, prize draw rules
By March 30, 2012on
We’re delighted to announce that both Spark and Fuse will be speaking at Cybher 2012 – the first female blogger event of its kind in the UK. This one-day event will bring together the most influential bloggers and speakers from all corners of the blogosphere to network, inspire, share and learn. It’s taking place on 12th May 2012 at 8 Northumberland Avenue in the heart of London. The line-up of speakers is seriously impressive with some heavyweight bloggers taking to the stage. We’ll be there to share our expertise, wisdom and experience on how to conduct online prize promotions properly. We’re looking forward to advising everyone how to get the details right on their blogs, twitter and Facebook. And we’re really excited about meeting all the great bloggers we’ve met on Twitter in person. Do come and say hello if you’re there!
Read more here …
- Competition management, competition rules, competition terms and conditions, compliance, prize draw rules, prize draw terms and conditions
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By March 26, 2012on
We watch prize promotions on both Twitter and Facebook with great interest. While our primary goal is to educate companies that prize promotions have to be run to ASA/CAP code, we’ve actually witnessed some very interesting events unfold. We’ve seen how some people are able to cheat and equally how easy it is to be exposed as a cheat. Di Coke, has been entering and winning competitions for 14 years, and has posted a very interesting blog on this subject which we think is definitely worth sharing.
Cheating in Facebook & Twitter competitions
I blog about competitions because I enjoy it. I’ve seen how comping can change people’s lives and I want to encourage more people to get involved with this amazing hobby. I want my blog readers and Facebook friends to experience the challenge of entering, the nervous anticipation, and the huge excitement if you’re a winner. I want to show promoters what a joy it is to host a creative promotion and what great interaction you can have with the fans. I try to stay upbeat about my hobby, but recently that’s been getting more and more difficult. I didn’t want to waste my time blogging about cheating, but I know that hundreds – possibly thousands – of you will read this blog post, so I should take advantage of this captive audience to warn you about what’s going on.
This post has been in progress for some time, but the sheer volume of cheating on Facebook and Twitter recently has regrettably made it more urgent for me to put this information where people can access and share it. Cheats using multiple profiles, and those who pass off others’ work as their own, are ruining our hobby and giving compers a bad name – and it’s up to us to try and stop it. Before I begin, I must stress that not EVERY voting, referral or photo competition is won by a cheat – but there ARE an awful lot of dishonest folk out there who will stoop very low to try and bag a prize.
Compers need to be on guard and not be afraid to Report/Block if we find someone cheating. We also need to warn promoters about what’s going on! When you see that dreaded status update ”We thought it would be fun for our Facebook fans to choose the winner by voting….” then it’s time to act. Many agencies and promoters are still very naive and believe that their super-duper fun new Facebook competition will be won by someone who plays fair, when unfortunately that isn’t always the case! Promoters – scroll down to the bottom of this post for advice on running a fair competition that won’t be targeted by cheats.
So what’s the truth? There are thousands of people out there tricking us, many of them sitting happily on our friends list, clicking on all the competition links we share, then going on to win prizes by deception… read more here
- competition, Competition management, competition terms and conditions, compliance, facebook, Twitter
By January 19, 2012on
Last week on Twitter we stumbled upon the perfect example of how to attract criticism, lose followers, and ruin your business reputation all because of a poorly executed prize draw.
An online travel agency launched a follow and retweet draw offering a decent prize. Said company’s announcement of the winner was followed by outcry – other entrants could see that the winner had only ever tweeted a handful of times and had never once retweeted the actual prize draw message – it wasn’t difficult to discover, they merely had to check the winner’s timeline. If this wasn’t bad enough, the winner was located very close to the agency’s HQ. A deluge of complaints were tweeted and the agency blocked anyone on twitter who enquired about the outcome, whilst also deleting posts on its Facebook page. Allegedly they have also subsequently deleted previous tweets with any mentions of an external agency conducting the draw. Within hours, followers had decided this company were totally untrustworthy and the message was spread quickly amongst their followers, too.
What a mess.
We asked the twitterverse to feedback details of other suspect prize draws and the response was staggering. For every prize draw that is conducted to code and within industry guidelines, clearly there are at least another five which are not. We heard more stories of companies awarding prizes to fictional users, to users who hadn’t followed the instructions and other unacceptable behaviour.
We’re not the Twitter Prize Police but we are an agency that advocates good promotional behaviour. Compliance is essential. Run your prize promotion properly and everyone is happy. Run it badly and you will be found out. Your followers will tell their followers and rather than building a solid foundation for your business, you are essentially destroying your reputation. Prize draws that are conducted badly always attract more publicity than those which are carried out well.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what prize you are giving away or the size of your company, terms and conditions are not only essential they are a CAP code requirement. They protect both the promoter and the consumer and leave no room for ambiguity. Recently we conducted a twitter draw for a prize which had to be sent in costly refrigerated units – one of the winners was in the USA. Because our terms were robust and because they excluded non-UK residents we were able to politely explain to the winner why a redraw had to take place. The winner understood and there were no hard feelings.
Decide on the route of entry and communicate this well. Do people simply have to follow, follow and retweet once or retweet a number of times? Make it clear and ensure only qualifying entrants are put into the draw.
The draw itself must be conducted by an independent person. That is someone who doesn’t work in your office or for your company, and isn’t a relative or fictional character.
Be aware that the Advertising Standard Authority’s digital remit includes Twitter. If a consumer makes a complaint and this is upheld, you might find yourself at the receiving end of a fine, having to fork out for extra prizes, redirection of any Google search for your company to the ASA complaint rather than your homepage or even a trade embargo.
If there’s any doubt of the point we are trying to make, we’ll spell it out again. Run your prize promotion properly. No one is above industry regulations and twitter users are not fools.
Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
If you’d like some help compiling robust terms and conditions, or need an independent person to conduct a prize draw please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- competition terms and conditions, compliance, prize draw rules, prize draw terms and conditions, prize promotion, Twitter
By October 24, 2011on
The X-Factor has issued an apology after cancelling the competition broadcast live on Saturday 22nd October 2011. A technical error in the show meant that the competition answers read out were different on two different screens forcing the promoters to cancel the competition and offer entrants a full refund.
Not only an administrative nightmare for the promoter, and a loss of revenue generated from SMS and phone lines, but perhaps most importantly viewers will be left disappointed by this technical error which comes at a time when ratings are already reported to be slipping.
While excellent promotional planning can ensure risks are greatly reduced, errors and technical glitches can, and do, happen. And it is vital that the service entrants receive following an incident such as this is top-notch in order to alleviate disappointment and avoid any further negative PR.
If you’re thinking of running a promotion, large or small, then it is important that you have everything in place to ensure its smooth running. Email Spark & Fuse today at email@example.com – we’d be happy to provide help and advice to ensure your promotion is a success.
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By September 12, 2011on
A cautionary tale this week of how running a competition without due consideration can generate very bad publicity…
A well-known toy company recently launched a brilliant competition on Facebook promising to reward the winner with a big cash prize. The competition was judged and the winner notified. A week later, the winner was contacted again to say that the judges’ marks had been added up incorrectly and the winner was in fact not the winner after all and wouldn’t be awarded the big cash prize.
Unfortunately for the toy company, the winner was a professional comper with a well known blog which talks about all her experiences, good and bad. And so the PR disaster began… the toy company was trashed on Facebook, Twitter and comper websites.
Rightfully, the toy company then decided to award a cash prize to both the original winner and the new winner. But it was an expensive mistake to make given that advice on how to run the competition correctly in the first instance would have cost them less than the additional prize. And it’s not possible to put a cost on the damage to their reputation as the competition generated substantial criticism, which is a shame because they really do produce great toys.
If you’re thinking about running a competition and would like some advice on how to do it properly, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Competition management, competition rules, competition terms and conditions, compliance, negative publicity
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