Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Small talk

This week I have mostly been chatting with Lorna Beattie, Blogger in Chief at Mission Competition.

For those that don’t know Lorna, she’s a geography undergraduate at Glasgow University. She might have only a couple of years of *serious* comping under her belt, but don’t for a minute think she’s green behind the ears - she’s already won about £7k of prizes this year, including a whole bunch of fancy tech. So yes - I’m very much in her shadow! But here’s the thing: she’s also a very helpful sort. While I’m busy overthinking the minutiae of this noble pursuit, she’s sharing her knowledge about how compers can improve their odds of winning. In other words, on any given day, you will undoubtedly learn more from her than me.

Zoinks. Sorry about that! Tell you what, if you promise to come back, I’ll endeavour to be more useful in the future - even if it means getting Lorna to write my tips for me!

In the meantime, why not have an eavesdrop on our conversation? Who knows, maybe there’s even a nugget of wisdom in there!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A few of my favourite things...

Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens. That’s is the last time you’ll hear me mention them in the same breath as like-share and follow/RT comps. I’m not saying I’m above either, but of the numerous grumbles I have volleyed at them, right now I’m focusing my froth at the way they require literally zero interaction with the brand.

Why is this so important? Because if promoters don’t create the right kind of buzz around a brand, they’re focusing their marketing effort on garnering short-term interest that’ll be forgotten as soon as the page is closed - and the brand with it. And I do so hate to see hard work go to waste.

That’s why I prefer creative competitions, especially those that force entrants not just to make an effort, but actually to immerse themselves in the brand.

Sorry, that probably sounds a bit poncey, but let me give a couple of examples.

First, consider the Human Centipede. I’ve little positive to say about this nauseatingly vile franchise, but when the DVD of the last movie was released, I had to applaud the promoters for going the extra mile. That they were giving away the DVD was no surprise. The marquee prize, meanwhile, was a massive fancy telly - a great thing in itself, but as prizes go, not really fizzing with originality. Where the promoters excelled, however, was the entry mechanism. No one was accepted into the draw without first submitting a photograph of themselves on their hands and knees. Why? So the promoter could photoshop them into a giant centipede.

Unique? I’d say so. If there has been another occasion where compers have willingly lined up to have their mouths digitally stitched onto the anuses of complete strangers, then I for one want to know.
I imagine many folks might consider such a comp to be in poor taste. I won’t deny that. But it was certainly an immersive experience that complemented the movie perfectly.

Another campaign I enjoyed was back in 2014 and was run by Hafele, the furniture fittings and architectural hardware company. This was a two-part campaign to raise brand awareness by getting people to talk about the brand, or more specifically, trying to pronounce it.

It was a simple conceit - record yourself saying “Hafele!” and upload it to the Hafele Facebook page. Every entrant was then sent a branded t-shirt and asked to tweet a picture of themselves wearing it in order to be entered into a sweepstakes for £5,000, with something like 50 electric drills for runners-up. Power tools, I concede, aren’t everyone’s bag, but £5,000 is quite some draw.

In a matter of weeks, two of the biggest social media platforms were swimming in pictures and videos about Hafele. And in case you’re wondering how it’s pronounced, as you can see below, they don’t actually care! 

It's the originality of competitions like these that really makes me smile because they help keep the hobby fresh. The truth is, I won nothing in the Hafele draw, and I didn't even enter the Human Caterpillar comp (for logistical rather than moral reasons!), but because of the engagement factor, these campains are indelibly imprinted onto my mind - such is the power of awesome promotion!

Can you remember any other classic promotions? Use the comment section below to refresh my memory!

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Wasabi's theory of relativity

Nerd question: I’ve heard lots of compers say that the big one is just around the corner ... but just how big is that biggie?

Personally, I concentrate hardest on the smaller, more frequent wins. It’s not that I dislike big wins (as that would make me a fool) but I do have a fondness for smaller odds, and smaller odds tend to be associated with smaller prizes. The stats certainly bear this out for me: nearly half my wins this year have had a face value no greater than £10.

In the world of seasoned compers, this possibly marks me out as a part-timer. So be it. But it does mean I’m never blasé about £50 prizes, and if I’m lucky enough to score a £100 win you’ll find me high-fiving the mirror and whooping like an immature ambulance. On the few occasions I’ve topped the ton, I’ve actually felt a little unwell, like I’ve been on the waltzer with a belly full of fizzy pop and candy floss. I daren’t imagine what would happen if I won a car, but I’m pretty sure it’d require a doctor.

In any case, the fact remains that for me, a £100 prize is exceptional. As such, I’d call it a biggie. However, if I was winning a prize of that size every week (let me imagine that for a second!) then no doubt my opinion would be different.

I know my place

In short, “big” is relative.

Does this mean we need an objective metric-style system for measuring prize size?

Certainly, we could always assign a bunch of adjectives to a vague set of boundaries, such as under £50 being “modest” and over £1000 being “jumbo”, but it’s all a bit arbitrary and far too hard to remember.

So, here’s my plan: let’s call all our wins “nice”.  You’ve won a pen? Nice. A luggage tag? Nice. A £100 watch? Ah, you’re right, that is better. Have another “i”. Niice. A £200 giftcard? Niiice. A Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid car? You can type those vowels yourself!

Are you you due a biggie? And how big is a biggie anyway?!

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Simply the best?

Someone asks you what your best ever prize is - what do you say? Is it possible to answer that question objectively, or am I just over-analysing? Would you answer that question differently depending who asked you?

To the non-comper, the monetary value of a prize is probably the most obvious way to measure its greatness. To me, however, that’s just accountancy - and quack accountancy at that. Why? Well, for starters, list price and market price just aren’t the same thing. My favourite way to illustrate this is to browse Amazon for fire-sale timepieces - ie watches that are currently on sale with “99% off!” tickets.

The list price of these watches puts them up there with your Omegas and Tag Heuers - only you won’t see any Omegas or Tags here, because the genuine high-end brands don’t do fire sales. Likewise, you won’t see anyone buying these pseudo luxuries at their full price simply because they aren’t really luxury goods.

Anyway, I'm losing sight of my point, which is that using a price-tag as a proxy for awesomeness is a blunt instrument at best. It makes no allowance for aesthetics or utility or any other criteria that might be especially important to the individual.

Of course, you could always refer back to your win-list spreadsheet and grade every prize on a scale of 1-10 using whatever arbitrary criteria are most meaningful to you, but that would be a whole new level of bonkers, pure and simple.

And all this is before we even get to the ‘money can’t buy’ experiences.

So what prompted this rambling train of thought? Simply that I was recently asked what I considered my best prize to be and I froze like the proverbial spot-lit bunny. I’m regularly hamstrung by pointless pedantry, and have terrible bother filling in forms, and in this case I simply couldn’t move beyond ‘best, how?’

Fortunately, I was granted a little grace here, so I’ll share it with you. For me, ‘best’ means most cherished (although I reserve the right to revise this at any point!). And my most cherished win is the iPhone 5 I won during my first summer of comping.
selfie with iPhone
Happiest day of my comping life. The promoter hated my pic.

I didn’t have a dozen wins under my belt at this point, and the first thing I remember on receiving the winning notification was a sudden burst of nausea, as if, I don’t know, someone was going undo my win (and indeed, to this day, I never feel like something has been truly won till I’ve unwrapped the parcel!).

After that I was just giddily impatient. I was using an abysmal phone at the time and I hated it like you can’t imagine. It was mediocre when I got it, and 18 months into my contract it was barely even unfit for purpose.

Now, I’m pretty sure the ‘new’ phone was a reconditioned model (the fact that the promoter was a phone repair company was a major clue here) but I didn’t care - from that point, every call I made, every text I sent, reminded me that I was a winner. Remember, this was still my early days of comping, so it was like getting dozens of pep talks a day! On top of all that, I was able to enter so many more photo comps (my previous phone didn’t even have a selfie cam!) that the prize single-handedly pushed my comping game up a gear.

In short, the prize changed my life. It probably wasn’t the most expensive thing I’ve won (given its provenance, I'm just guessing what it would have cost at the time), but I’m pretty sure it made me a better person - if only because I was cursing less!

What does ‘best’ mean to you? What’s your ‘best’ prize and why?