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 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 15, 2012on
If you are running a prize draw you’ve probably already decided who will pick the winning entry. Perhaps the job will fall to someone that works within your business? Maybe you’re a blogger and there’s no one to ask, so you’re doing it yourself? Or maybe you’ve enlisted your mum? Quite probably you have also considered on what basis you are going to select your winner – the ‘best’ tweet or the most eye-catching email address, or perhaps you’ll look for a person who lives nearby so that delivery of the item is easy and inexpensive. Maybe you’re even planning to ignore a whole section of entrants who you feel comp ‘professionally’.
Unfortunately we’ve seen this approach too many times, and it does not comply with the CAP code and IPM best practise guidelines. The CAP Code states ‘Promoters of prize draws must ensure that prizes are awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and, unless winners are selected by a computer process that produces verifiably random results, by an independent person, or under the supervision of an independent person’.
We’ve heard all manner of excuses from promoters as to why they don’t need to use an independent source or verifiable computer process, ‘it’s not a serious prize draw’ and ‘it’s not a very high value prize’ or ‘I’m just a blogger so it doesn’t apply to me’. Some businesses are simply unaware of this requirement altogether.
Fact is, if you are hosting a prize promotion, it must comply with the CAP code. It matters not if you’re a micro business and the pool of entrants is a bit on the teeny tiny side. A draw has to be conducted appropriately. If entrants take the time to interact with your promotion, then you, as the promoter, must run the draw fairly and ensure everyone has an equal chance of winning. All promotions, big or small are devised to create excitement around a brand or product, so stating ‘it’s only a bit fun’ is not an excuse to flout the code.
Prize promotion entrants can be a vocal bunch, and, quite rightly, don’t appreciate it when a draw is conducted in an unfair manner. And don’t think you won’t get found out either! Every week we are sent numerous Twitter and Facebook examples where promoters have clearly awarded a prize on a basis which suits themselves. And who can forget the Blue Peter fiasco? Don’t open yourself (or a client) to public outcry and criticism. It only takes one person to complain to the Advertising Standard Authority and you could be expected to fund additional prizes, pay a fine or face a social media and PR nightmare. Can you imagine a potential customer googling your brand instead to be taken directly to the ASA site with details of the breach? Persistently flout the code and this is exactly what will happen. We don’t make this stuff up!
Call us biased, but we know that running a prize draw IS fun and it IS a brilliant way to create excitement and positive discussions around your brand on- and offline. It’s a great way to engage old and new customers. Have your winners properly selected and you’ll see how satisfying it can be. Pick them because they’re your mates, and it might end up being the last promotion you ever want to see …
Is this how you do your draw?
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 email@example.com
- competition terms and conditions, compliance, prize draw rules, prize draw terms and conditions, prize promotion, Twitter
By January 9, 2012on
You’d have to live on the moon to not know the Olympics are coming to London this year. Businesses across the country are busy creating ideas to link in with the biggest sporting event on the planet. However, if you’re planning to hook marketing plans or promotional events around the Olympic games, we implore you to read on.
Before we get stuck in we need to make it very clear that we are not official sponsors of this year’s games and neither are we trying to suggest or imply that we are. However, as an agency that specialises in compliance we are compelled to discuss the matter.
An incredible two billion pounds of private funding has been given to the Olympics and therefore the exclusive rights of these sponsors, as well as the long term reputation of the games, are legally protected. If you are not an official sponsor you cannot claim or imply that you are linked to the games in any way.
Well that’s nothing to do with me you might think, I’m simply planning to offer a prize to London in July as a nice topical tie in with the games. This is exactly the sort of marketing which is absolutely not permitted. By all means offer a prize to London in July to see The London Eye, but touch on the O word and expect a call from The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.
LOCOG will not tolerate any representation of any kind in a manner likely to suggest to the public that there is an association between the London Olympics and a goods or service. While LOCOG has promised a balanced approach to infringement – with polite phone calls in the first instance – the courts have already been allocated significant power in this matter and LOCOG can seek damages, impose massive fines, request account of profits and impose injunctions against anything which is seen to infringe protected rights.
What does create an association mean? Use of iconic games images, medals, podiums even colours or values associated with the games is enough to conflict with the protected rights. For example it is unlawful to use the Olympic symbol, the London 2012 logo in the course of trade without LOCOG’s written consent. Words and listed expressions too such as ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympian’, ‘London 2012’ and ‘summer 2012’ are all included in protected rights and cannot feature in any promotions or marketing (and don’t forget this includes ads and advertorials, paid for bloggers or tweeters). The context of these things is also important such as the nature of the product, timing and previous conduct.
There are only three defences for breach of the above and they are publishing and broadcasting factual information for the news (and note, not for ads or advertorials); historical use (for example if you’re already called Olympic Holidays, that’s okay) and factual statements providing no association is implied.
This post only really touches on the issue of legally protected rights, we have not covered off trademarks, copyright for example or even ambush marketing. You can find out more about it on the offical website: www.london2012.com/brandprotection
Never before has compliance advice at the planning stage been so crucial. Get in touch if you’d like our help – we can check your promotional ideas before you allocate budget or go live.
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By January 3, 2012on
With the arrival of the New Year you’re probably adding the final touches to your 2012 marketing plan or preparing promotional concepts for clients. Perhaps you’re planning a prize promotion as the opportunity to hook onto something of great national focus is tremendous this year – there’s the Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and Euro 2012 for a start.
Prize promotions are brilliant marketing tools and can achieve many things but before you make it so, are you absolutely sure that you’ve thought it all through properly? Tempting as it is to cut corners or replicate something you’ve seen elsewhere, it’s essential to get it right. Prize draws and competitions which are executed badly generate more publicity than those which are managed successfully. And websites dedicated to people who enter prize promotions (of which there are many) will pick up on anything untoward and won’t hesitate to criticise. Far from creating a positive feel-good connection with customers, ill-thought out promotions damage reputations and in some cases mean hefty fines or business penalties levied by industry regulators such as The Advertising Standards Authority.
We’ve been drafted in on many occasions to pick up the pieces of a poorly considered concept so would like to share some top tips to help you get it right from the outset.
1. First and foremost is your prize promotion compliant? Is it even legal? Prize promotions are regulated by The Gambling Act 2005 and it’s essential that you’re not in breach of this. Be certain that you understand the difference between a prize draw and a competition and if your prize promotion requires payment for entry in some way – be it purchasing a product or entering via SMS.
2. All prize promotions must have full terms and conditions. Yes, even if it’s only going on Twitter. And no, don’t make them up or copy something ‘because it looks really legal’ from someone else’s website. They may not know what they’re doing either. Terms and conditions are vital – they protect both the promoter and the customer
3. Include a closing date. Once a promotion is live, this date cannot be changed – even if you don’t receive as many entries as you would like.
4. Make it clear how customers enter the competition or prize draw. It might sound obvious, but don’t forget to include entry details in the copy. The clearer your entry details, the better the response.
5. If you’ve chosen to run a competition, it’s a CAP code requirement that an independent judge assists with the selection process. Your panel needs to include somebody with relevant experience for whom the outcome has no benefit. We know what you’re going to ask – no, neither your mum nor the work experience person is acceptable.
Before you action anything, approve budget or sign off creative be certain your prize promotion does not conflict with industry regulations or even fall foul of the law. Get in touch if you’d like advice on your concept or full terms and conditions for your prize promotion.
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