Prize promotions are as old as the hills. From cereal-box toys to Caribbean holidays, the idea of driving sales and engagement through prizes and rewards has been around for decades. But, for brands and agencies in 2018, the opportunities offered by prizes and incentives are truly greater than ever before, writes Chris Pearson.
While competitions are a regular component of annual marketing budgets for many FMCG brands, they have traditionally been a ‘bridesmaid’, playing a supporting role to above-the-line advertising campaigns. From social media giveaways to retailer overlays, prize-led activations reliably drive sales, engagement and loyalty among key target markets without necessarily being a core focus in themselves.
But that may be changing. From Coca-Cola’s ‘Win a Dream Holiday’ to Cadbury’s ‘Match and Win’ and ‘Cadbury FC’ campaigns, prize promotions are stepping out of the shadows and taking centre stage. Often supported by considerable above-the-line marketing spend, many brands are realising the power of prizes to engage consumers and, more importantly, to make bold statements about who they are.
“Often supported by considerable above-the-line marketing spend, many brands are realising the power of prizes to engage consumers and, more importantly, to make bold statements about who they are.”
The profile of such promotions is further multiplied by greater press coverage and, increasingly, by greater levels of attention on social media. Brands and agencies are rightly fearful of the backlash which can erupt on Facebook and Twitter when competitions are badly managed, but this is just one side of the coin. An innovative, original competition with aspirational prizes and an engaging entry mechanic can be great social content: fun, shareable and aesthetically attractive.
Spreading the word
While some of this sharing will be organic and spontaneous, there are also ways to maximise the social reach generated by prize promotions. Whether competitions are run on social media or dedicated microsites, you can prompt consumers to share entries on their social feeds, driving further traffic and engagement from their peers.
The entry mechanic is vital. Asking consumers to enter via a Facebook ‘like’, or by inputting their email on a microsite, has an appealing simplicity which will drive high entry rates. But asking people to tag an Instagram photo or upload a video can be much more valuable, in terms of interesting personalised content. Entry rates may be lower, but there’s the potential for your message to be shared and spread more widely.
Crucially, however, the prize needs to be right. Whether it’s an on-trend destination, a hot ticket event, a unique activity, or even a bundle of designer goods, the prize needs to fit the brand’s target audience. It needs to have the cultural cachet – by virtue of being fashionable or aspirational – to make people want to associate with it. If a person’s social media profile is the face they present to the world, your prize needs to fit with that face. As well as being something your target market wants, it must also be something they are happy being seen to want.
One failsafe way to pass this test is by putting choice in the hands of the consumer. From Nutella and Kleenex to Budweiser and Glenfiddich, we’ve worked on a range of promotions where winners have designed their own prizes. Ask entrants to describe their perfect day/weekend/holiday/birthday – in words, pictures or video – and reward the winner by turning their entry into a reality.
The entries invariably make for fascinating reading. From touching stories of human kindness to hilariously bizarre descriptions of the perfect holiday, a gallery of entries constitutes superbly entertaining content. The bespoke prizes we’ve organised for these promotions range from month-long American road trips and Icelandic whale watching holidays to school trips, village fetes and even a wedding!
For winning entries, the potential for social activity is huge. Having selected an engaging story to bring to life, a brand can use social media to document the whole prize experience. From winners’ reactions through to trip preparations, and finally the experience itself, why not harness the power of Facebook and Instagram to maximise your reach? Written testimonials and photographs are great. If you can include a GoPro, and encourage winners to film a fun video diary, that’s even better.
If you’re offering a prize with real novelty or entertainment value, it might even be worth enlisting a professional camera crew. Whether it’s a celebrity meet-and-greet, an adrenaline-fuelled holiday or a wacky road trip, a promotional video can pay for itself. We’re talking about genuine, unscripted footage of a delighted customer interacting with your brand, while enjoying the experience of a lifetime. What better brand advertisement could there be?
All of this can be summed up in three words: make it count. Whether it’s a limited edition product or a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a great prize promotion gives lucky customers something amazing, something to cherish and remember. So shout about it.
Chris Pearson is an Account Director at specialist prize and incentive agency Element.
In association with APMC
First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ January 2018)© to order back issues please call 016611660