Monday, 27 February 2017

Comping beneath the radar

What if I told you there was another way to win? A competition with no other entrants and no closing date. No terms, no conditions, and, erm, no guaranteed prizes either. Would you stick around to hear more? (You don’t have to answer that … but I will check my analytics!)

OK, so here’s the disclosure: it’s not technically comping. But when it works out, it most definitely feels like winning.

So what is this Hot New Thing? I call it karmic comping, but if anyone has a better name then I’m open to suggestions.

Why karmic? Because goodwill generates goodwill. (Disclosure 2: I originally put “good vibes” but didn’t want to turn off my non-hippy readers.)

Let me be clear - this isn’t for everyone. If you’re going to be cynical about it, you may as well leave the room now, because without genuine brand affection, this absolutely will not work.

Shrugging off that cloak of cynicism can be hard - I get that. After all, being a grown-up can often seem like one long grind. If this sounds all too familiar, you might want to take a step back and let your children do the talking, as it’s a well-known fact that the mouths of babes are ripe with spontaneous (and if you’re lucky, ill-informed) sincerity.

Case in point: My eldest lad’s most prized possession is (at the time of writing) a Pilot Frixion pen. He loves that pen. No toy comes close. So I thought I’d make a video about him and his pen.
And then I sent it to Pilot.
They loved it. They shared it. And they sent my delighted son another four of their fancy Frixion pens.

So what’s the lesson here? Brands love to share user-generated content because it’s genuine, grassroots love. It shows how their product makes a difference to real people. In turn, people connect with it, because it’s completely shorn of corporatism.

In other words, if you love a brand then let them know. And if you can let them know in a way that tickles their chestnuts, who knows … maybe they’ll love you back. That’s karma.

Have you ever tweeted unsolicited love to a brand? How did it go?!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Win! LEGO Batman Movie prizes

Lego is cool, Batman is cool, and Lego Batman is cool squared. Throw in a competition too and, well, that’s where my cool maths conks out, but trust me, it's cooler than an Ice Age pavlova.

Can’t imagine that much cool? Allow me to elaborate.

This competition is being run by Blocks magazine. The prizes are awesome sets from the Lego Batman movie: first place wins 70909 Batcave Break-in, second place wins 70908 The Scuttler and third place wins 70904 Clayface Splat Attack. On top of that, all three winners get a copy of Blocks No. 28 signed by the movie’s director, Chris McKay and producer, Dan Lin.

What’s the brief? Convert a regular Lego model into Batman Lego model.

Here’s one example from Block’s Mod Squad - the (formerly yellow) Batsubmarine.
The Lego Batsub
I wish I was entering this, but sadly I lack the materials. Should you, however, have an abundance of black (or very, very dark grey) bricks, I suggest you get cracking!

The competition closes midnight 27 February. For more information, check out the post on Brick Fanatics.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Breaking the duck

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Well, it stops him being a lucky boy, at the very least. For the last few weeks, I’ve either been drowning in work or parenting duties (or both), which puts an uncomfortably low ceiling on comping time. And, as everyone knows, a lack of comping makes for a lack of prizes.

As a case in point, I’ve had just one proper win this month, although it’s fair to say that it *is* a bit of an animal. Which is to say, it *smells* like a bit of an animal. That’s right - I’ve won salami-scented cologne, or to give it its full name, Porc by Peperami.

To be sure, had I been on a winning streak, the giveaway would have been less eye-catching, but let’s just say I saw an opportunity: a photo contest where you had to show off your best impression of the Peperami animal. There aren’t many times where being bald is an advantage.
My impression of the Peperami animal

I’ll be honest: I’ve not actually sampled this inspired fragrance as I’m planning to gift it to a friend - a very special friend. However, the packaging is so excellent, and the press release so perfect, that I just had to share.
Porc by Peperami

Peperami press release

Without doubt, this is my oddest prize ever - it makes my lucky pants seem positively sober!

If you’re having a dry spell, do you get more tempted to comp off-piste? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever won?

Friday, 10 February 2017

Win! A night in London

Just before Christmas, I had my biggest win of the year:  an Instax camera and £300 Virgin Experience Days voucher. The camera alone would have been a great prize, but the voucher … well, the voucher got me really excited, because I knew from the off what I wanted - what I needed - a spa break.

I’m a relatively recent convert to the spa experience, but my word have I found them life-changing … To be honest, if it meant I could escape the incessant din of my children, I’d be happy just sitting in a tepid bath for two days. At least I’d be able to hear my own thoughts again. But a spa break - a spa break for two, no less - a spa break for two with massage, dinner, bed and breakfast - not to mention all you can eat jacuzzi time, well, what’s not to love?

I recognise, of course, that once back in my own home, the warm glow of relaxation will recede at a frightening rate of knots, but it’s reassuring to know that my body does still have the capacity to unwind.

The competition itself was simple: share your favourite photo memory of 2016, and Virgin Experience Days would pick a winner. Given the awesomeness of the prize, surprisingly few people entered - maybe 200 or so - so I can only guess folks were distracted by the advent comps.

I had no idea what the promoter was looking for, so I just submitted a snap taken when we went for a family walk in the countryside. It was a beautiful - if cold - day, but I think our youngest found it all a bit much.

But that’s all by and by. Virgin Experience Days is running another competition, this time to win a night away in London, packed with activities. All you need to do is tell them the funniest situation you’ve got into with your other half - before 9AM, 13th February.

I’ve been scratching my head for a story but have so far drawn a blank - I hope you have better luck!

Monday, 6 February 2017

Win! Goodies from the Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy came back this week, but this time her visit was unscheduled. No money changed hands, for there were no body parts under the pillow. Rather, the Tooth Fairy was making a special delivery.

This extraordinary visit followed the extraordinary circulation enjoyed by the letter my son received from the tooth fairy just a couple of weeks prior.

When the early-years toothcare specialists Brush-Baby got wind of my son’s failure to supply the Tooth Fairy with a perfect specimen, they sent him and his younger brother a brand-new electric toothbrush each, as well as two tubes of toothpaste: spearmint and tutti-frutti.

I confess, the whole concept of sweet toothpaste makes me twitch. But that can be explained by a lifetime of indoctrination: cars should be pine fresh, household cleaner should be lemon fresh, and toothpaste should be minty fresh. My desire to use sweet toothpaste is about as strong as my desire to use bacon toothpaste. But that’s not to say it’s wrong (well, bacon toothpaste is wrong, I stand by that) - if it motivates kids to clean their teeth properly, then it’s simply a gateway to better oral hygiene.

But did the children enjoy it? Oh yes - in fact, my youngest cried when I wouldn’t brush his teeth for a third time. (Cruel parenting is a forte - thank you.)

If you’d like to see how well the brush and toothpaste were received (as well as the Tooth Fairy's most recent correspondence), my son's reportage will explain more.

Now, as if Brush-Baby hadn't been kind enough already, those all-round good eggs have also offered to give one of my friends an age-appropriate oral hygiene pack for their own littlun. So whether you have a gummy little bairn or a gap-toothed schoolgoer, this is a great starter pack for encouraging best practice in oral hygiene and ensuring Sparkly Pegs receives a steady stream of pristine ivories.
The Brush-Baby range (pictured) is divided into three stages: Baby (0-3 years), Toddler (3-6 years) and Child (6+ years)
The winner may select which starter pack they would like to receive; contents will vary

All you need to do is enter via the Gleam widget below.

The closing date for entries is 26 February 2017. More T&C below!

Brush-Baby Giveaway

Terms and conditions
1) The prize is an age-appropriate early-years toothcare pack from Brush-Baby. The winner may choose either Baby (0-3 years), Toddler (3-6 years) or Child (6+ years). There is no cash alternative.
2) The closing date for entries is 23.59 26 February 2017. No further entries will be accepted after this point. You can still comment if you like, but there has to be a line in the sand.
3) The giveaway is restricted to UK residents only, excluding my family and employees of Brush-Baby.
4) The winner will be automatically selected via the Gleam app.
5) The winner has seven days to claim their prize. If the prize hasn’t been claimed in this period, I will redraw.
6) I will announce the winner on this blog post and on Twitter within seven days of the winner claiming their prize.
7) Brush-Baby is responsible for supplying the prize.
8) This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Twitter, Blogger or any other social network.
9) I will not use your information to sell you encyclopaedias, or to get anyone else to sell you encyclopaedias.
10) I reserve the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of my control. Yes, that does include zombie apocalypse. Any further clarification of terms will be clearly added to this blog post.
11) Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
12) I think that’s it, but if I have forgotten anything fundamental that might void this endeavour, please let me know.

Disclaimer: I received the Brush-Baby products in exchange for writing this post.

Thanks for hosting on your linky Di Coke & Loquax!
Thanks also to Prize Finder and Competition Database for listing!

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Reasons to be cheerful

January is the worst. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. It’s like the first few weeks of parenthood - an awful lot of grind without the slightest smile of validation.

Historically, January has been the straw that breaks the camel’s back for me. It doesn’t make me a good person to be around - sorry world!

This year, however, has been better - my best January for a few years, in fact - and that’s in no small part down to comping. That’s not to say comping is the panacea to poor mental health; this January is already less grim than the last few for the simple fact that it’s the first in some years that I’ve not had to watch my father dying by degrees. But I digress; my point is simply that when the balance is right, the hobby has rewards beyond the prizes themselves.

Most obviously, there’s the community (hey there, community!). As with any hobby, it’s good to mingle (if only virtually) with like-minded souls. But the comping community also contains so many helpful folks, who will share tips with newbies and comps with their competitors, who will point you in the right direction if you’re looking for a competition but can’t recall the promoter, and who will massage your mojo when it has taken a bruising. Friendships are out there just waiting to be made - and who doesn’t need friends?

But what has worked really well for me, particularly in recent weeks (or the lean season, as some might say), is the creative aspect of the hobby. I’m going to make a confession here: sometimes I enter competitions with absolutely no intention of winning. That’s not to say I enter comps for prizes I don’t want; rather, I like the brief so much that I enter for the joy of the challenge, without the slightest hope of winning or worrying what I could have done better to impress the judges.

My entry for the Malta competition last week is a case in point. I can’t imagine it ticked many boxes for the promoter, but it made my mum and my sister so happy to reminisce about those holidays - and about happier times with my dad. That’s a prize in itself.

I’ve likewise written entries for creative writing competitions that have veered so far from the brief that they’ve been quite unusable. I then end up saving my work in my own little creative writing folder, before butchering the text into something vaguely in line with what the promoter has asked for. The result is a blatant hack job, as by this point it’s invariably too late to do anything about it. But I can live with that - I’ve got the director’s cut on file, ready for me to use in a way that suits me, some time in the future.

My dad used to say that sometimes it’s better to travel than to arrive. To that end, I suppose, there is reward to be had in dedicating hour after hour to the completion of entry forms. But when the grind of that mindless toil is over, what’s left? God willing, there may be some prizes; the value of those prizes may even be vaguely proportional to the hours invested in winning them. But beyond the material goods? Again, I confess, none of my fondest memories relate to web forms or retweets.

Winning might be the most obvious benefit of this hobby, but it isn’t the only one. YOLO, as the youth say, so if this is your hobby of choice, don’t let a single drop of pleasure from it escape you.