Friday, 13 April 2018

Blurred lines

Obsession. Compulsion. There are times when the difference between the two isn’t so clear. The Great Oreo Cookie Quest is one of those times.

For the uninitiated, this app-based promotion is basically a scavenger hunt where you have no idea what you’re looking for. Actually, that’s unfair - there are daily clues, but in many respects it’s quicker simply to point your phone at anything and everything and hope for the best. (For a better description, see Di Coke's post.)

What’s up for grabs? Well, if you’ve time on tap, it’s easy enough to win yourself £15 of vouchers for the Google Play store. There’s also the star prize - a Galaxy J7 phone - for the first person to find all 390 items.

SPOILER! That prize has already been claimed, so if you’re planning to take part, you might as well put your feet up once you’ve bagged the vouchers.

That is, unless you’re particularly fond of obsessive compulsive behaviour, in which case, the pleasure of collecting items grows exponentially the further you progress. This is in no small part down to the fact that some of the items are nigh impossible to scan.

Take milk, for example. It must have taken me an hour to scan this one.

At this point in the game, I had fewer than ten items to collect, while the player in pole position had only one. So … everything to play for, right?

It had taken a few hours to get this far, and was plainly going to take hours more. By all rights, I should have conducted some sort of cost-benefit exercise with my time, but logic had plainly gone out the window by this point. By hook or by crook, that milk was getting scanned.

Thankfully, a kind-hearted fellow comper put me out of my misery with the following recommendation: froth it up a little and snap from above.

Ker-ching! Item scanned!
Proof that I scanned the milk! THE MILK!
I did it! I scanned the milk!
I must have spent just as long fumbling with Google Image Search, trying to find a hatchet that would scan - no easy task when the app thinks they’re all axes. My doggedness paid off eventually, but when I realised I now had to scan an ice axe as well, my heart sank. I must have pointed my phone at a hundred ice axes, only to have the app think they were hammers, nails or, on at least one occasion, a stethoscope.

By now, I’d reached seventh place on the national leaderboard - woohoo! Unfortunately, the player who had been leading the pack had managed to find the last item on the list. Game over, in other words. Except for the fact that I hadn’t checked the T&C at this point, and spent another couple of hours banging my head against the wall, trying to scan pliers and coconuts before having the common sense to check the small print.

By the time I downed tools, there were three items I’d failed to scan, and a further three I’d failed to identify at all. Which was more frustrating I couldn’t say; however, the sense of relief as I was released from my obligations was overwhelming. My shoulders buoyed as their invisible burden was lifted.

Now all that remains is to spend the vouchers - has anyone got any recommendations?

Have you been playing the Great Oreo Cookie Hunt? And if so, how have you got on? Let me know if you need any clues!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Unboxing March 2018

Here endeth the month - and it hasn't been a bad one! Here's a video of me and the short man opening parcels. Not shown here is the £15 in Google Play vouchers that my wife and I both won through the Oreo cookie hunt. I'm not convinced the hours were worth it, but that's another story!

Be lucky!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

On belligerence

Sometimes I win. Sometimes I learn. And sometimes I do the same thing over and over again in the hope that things will turn out differently next time.

Some would call that the very definition of insanity. And sometimes they’d be right. Sometimes, however, it’s less clear-cut.

Case in point: I used the same Faces for Florida entry for three weeks in a row. After failing to pass muster on the first week, the likelihood of a subsequent win was slim to nil, but since I didn’t have any better ideas, my only option was to hope the rest of the field had a bad day.

Fanciful thinking? Maybe so, but a long shot is better than no shot, as Steven Bradbury found in the 2002 Winter Olympics when everyone else in the 1000m speed skating final fell over, leaving him to collect the gold.

Unfortunately for me, in this instance, the other entrants blew me out of the water. But on the plus side, I don’t have to worry about taking a volatile eight-year-old on a long-haul flight.

Then there was the time, about three years ago, when I tried to win a Weetabuddy. For the uninitiated, this recurring competition requires entrants to scatter fruit on their breakfast in a sufficiently artful manner that it looks like a face. I chose the path less travelled, and skewered fruit to my biscuit so it could stand up.

My weetabuddy

As luck would have it, the promoter was looking for balanced breakfasts rather than edible voodoo dolls, and my entry failed to make the grade. Not that I really minded - at that point I was in thrall to the comping monkey on my back, and entering every effort comp I could find, whatever the prize.

But I kept the picture. It wasn’t like it was well composed, or for that matter remotely clever. But I did love how perfectly it encapsulated the absurdity of comping - after all, who in their right mind would pin blueberries to their cereal just to win a fluffy Weetabix? And more to the point, why would anyone even want a fluffy Weetabix?

I can’t answer that last question, but I do know that my mojo was wanting a boot up the jacksie towards the end of last year, and on a whim, I entered the competition again. With the same picture.

Common sense would suggest that having failed once, the picture would only flop again. But common sense can bite me. I won that fluffy Weetabix. And my son loves it. At long last, he can hug his favourite cereal - something I’ll never manage with granola.

So, what’s my point? Simple! Stubbornness pays.

Has your persistence, belligerence or plain old dogged refusal to quit, won you any prizes? Let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Great Oreo Cookie Quest

In case you missed it, Oreo is currently running a massive promotion as part of The Great #OreoCookieQuest - a campaign to celebrate special family moments.

Packet of Oreos

The on-pack promotion will see a whole load of earphones and wireless speakers given away, not to mention a trip to San Francisco for four people (for more on this, check out Di Coke’s post).

I was planning to introduce my lads to Oreos as part of a fun day out; The Beast from the East, however, had other ideas, and effectively snowed us in for the best part of a week.

After three consecutive snow days, the children were getting fractious and clearly needed an injection of joy.

Now, anyone who knows me will confirm that I’m downright tight when it comes to letting my kids have sweets or biscuits between meals. Nevertheless, there are clearly occasions when a small but fun treat is in order. Being held hostage by an arctic tempest is one such occasion.

In such situations, I can understand why some people use biscuits as a form of currency, or possibly ransom payment, in the hope of buying a few minutes peace and quiet. My view, however, is that if you have leverage, it’s best to hold on to it for as long as possible.

To this end, I dangle cookies like the proverbial carrot while I create a learning opportunity for my captive audience. I call it a learning opportunity, but really it’s just me seeing how long I can talk about biscuits before my own willpower gives out and I have to open the packet.

And so, in lieu of a physical expedition, I took my family on a Great Oreo Cookie Quest for knowledge.

The lesson is brief, and comprises the following key facts:

  • Oreos are an American institution, having been made in the country for over a century; and
  • the traditional way to consume them is to first dunk them in milk.

Milk & cookies

There’s also the matter of a fun little story about Oreos, which dates back to 2013.

This was the year when another American institution - the Super Bowl - had a hiccup. As hiccups go, this one was a doozy: the lights went out.

This wasn’t major news in the UK; in America, however, where almost nothing gets higher viewing figures, this was a massive deal. The power outage lasted a good half-hour, during which time Oreo’s marketing team seized the opportunity to tweet a cheeky little message: you can still dunk in the dark.

Picture of tweet by Oreo

That opportunist tweet got over 15,000 retweets and is still celebrated in marketing circles as one of the best guerrilla marketing plays of recent years.

And it got me thinking in a similarly opportunistic manner - if the perfect serving size for Oreos is two per person, and there are four people in this house, one little snack can probably buy me a whole hour of family joy. And so, a new game was born: the amazing game of DUNK IN THE DARK!

You can probably guess how the game dynamics work, but I’ve made a little video of my son playing, just in case.

It’s worth noting that when it comes to eating biscuits, children have remarkable muscle memory. To this end, I strongly recommend moving the metaphorical goal posts between dunks!

As you can see, this hastily improvised diversion was extremely well received by the little people - and happy little people means happy parents!

Do you know any other ways to turn a tiny snack into quality family time - let me know in the comments below...

This post is an entry for BritMums #OreoCookieQuest, sponsored by Oreo

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Unboxing February 2018

Apologies for the lack of posts this month - more on that in due course. In the meantime, here's the fun bit - be lucky!

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Unboxing January 2018

What with lots of promoters announcing the winners of their advent comps in January, this month started off really well. Things quietened off after that, with just a couple of small wins for #NationalTriviaDay that I won on Twitter. That’s an American hashtag day, however, so I’m unlikely to see most of those prizes as I directed them to my US-based sister to distribute among her brood  (and I definitely don’t expect those macadamia nuts to last till I next visit!). Luckily, there was a turnup for the books last week, with one prize arriving within 24 hours of winning (result!) and another that I hope to feature in next month’s roundup.

Finally, I should add that this video is longer than it needs to be - sorry about that. It’s just that my second-born was especially taken with one of the prizes, so I indulged him with a little extra camera time. I do hope you’ll forgive me!

Be lucky!

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Faces for Florida

Fingers are crossed but I fear we need more tweed! #FacesForFlorida