Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018: A year in numbers

6541: Estimated prize value (£). In a world where RRP bears little relation to market value, and some prizes are in any case not available to buy, this figure is naturally informed by a bucketload of guesswork. My day out at the ladies’ Wimbledon final is a case in point. Anyone looking for a vaguely similar experience would be spending £3000 on debenture tickets. Even without access to the hospitality zone, the cost of lunch and afternoon tea for two, along with centre court tickets and a keg of Pimms would have pushed me so far into the red that I’d have been living off glacĂ© cherries and expired medicine for the foreseeable future. Obviously, there's more than one way to skin the proverbial accountant; in the present case, however, the flaying technique is academic: 2018 has been my most successful year by some margin.

1400: Volume of liquor won (ML). With a bottle of Italian gin and a bottle of Irish whiskey in the bag, this has been my best year for the hard stuff. Complementing this, there were also a dozen bottles of beer and a dozen bottles of cider to ease the trauma of parenting. Maybe next year I’ll win some Alka-Seltzer too.

390: Highest-value prize that was nothing to do with tennis (£). These watches were designed by a madman. Some days they make my brain hurt so much that I have to wear something different instead. But aren’t they just the cutest?

378: Value of vouchers won (£). Unlike cash wins, vouchers are great because the cretins at E.On can’t nick them after lousing up your gas bill, again. Most excitingly this year, I’ve had £150 in John Lewis vouchers and £100 to blow on the absurdly beautiful shirts made by JL Berlue. I’ve also had vouchers for Decathlon (£90), Screwfix (£25), the Google Play Store (£15), Starbucks (£10), Toymaster (£10) and Amazon (£3) - the latter coming from the brilliant Ribena promotion where the prizes may have been small, but boy were they persistent.

200: Cash won (£). A £200 injection into the bank account is always great, even if it does end up in some faceless utility company’s slush fund.

90: Number of wins. Despite a couple of dry patches and (all things considered) a relatively quiet December, I’m not far off two wins a week. I’m well chuffed with that!

55: Number of Instagram wins. More than half of my wins came from Instagram this year, but what started as a purple patch regressed into a blue period not long after the summer. Based on nothing more than anecdotal evidence, I suspect this was due to more promoters running comps over multiple channels, and more comps allowing multiple entries, but I couldn't possibly say for sure. Sometimes the ball just bounces the wrong way.

7: Value of spoiled wins after my serum sample smashed on the bathroom sink after my first-born hit the bathroom cabinet like a bull in a bran tub (£). Hilarity did not ensue.

4.69: Value of wombled winnings (£). After finding a suite of McDonald’s Monopoly stickers par terre, I indulged my first-born with a Big Mac Meal, which he tackled like the aforementioned bull in a bathroom cabinet. Temporary adoration ensued.

4: Cost to redeem Lucozade win (pence). Again, still?! That’s two years in a row that I’ve had to pay to receive my “free” bottle of Lucozade prize!

1: Comping mother. Now that my mum has moved down the road I’m doing my utmost to induct her into the comping community (read: nagging and nagging and nagging till she enters certain comps). In the last four weeks, she’s won a Bonne Maman hamper, £30 John Lewis vouchers and posh handcreams and house fragrance stuff from Lavender & Lillie. Considering that she’s only entered about ten comps, that's quite some win rate…

So much for the numbers, but what about the graphs? Well, to be honest, I failed to record a bunch of useful information this year, so my pie charts would be neither use nor ornament. I can, however, offer a long-tail graph to illustrate the distribution of prize value...

As one would expect, most of the prizes were worth under £50. Twenty-one (23%), however, were worth at least £50. Again, I'm really happy with that!

What do the stats say about your year? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

The wider world in 2018

When seasonal devastation abounds, the view through one’s fingers generally provides the ideal vantage point to look back upon the year. As it’s probably too soon to comment on how 2018 has treated me (after all, with a week to go, anything could happen), I find myself instead reflecting on some of my fondest memories from the last 12 months in the world of comping.

Personally, I'm always drawn to those stories with the kind of ridiculously mild drama that only a true comper will really appreciate - in other words, compers' problems.

The classic comper’s problem, of course, is winning more than you bargained for. Traditionally, this entails the logistical challenge of fitting, say, a year’s worth of cheese into a fridge the size of a biscuit. Less commonly, it involves winning a fridge large enough to hold not only said cheese, but also take the biscuit and one modestly sized person to chow in situ.

My heart was thus suitably gladdened when this indeed came to pass in Thailand, back in January, when a couple of lads who had won a refrigerator figured that the best way to get it home was on the back of a moped.

Less obviously droll, however, was Cadbury’s White Creme Egg promotion - a scavenger hunt plagiarised from the world of Willy Wonka, but with additional ick in the golden ticket, if the confectionery suffered anything like as much unauthorised unwrapping as I suspect.

Cadbury hasn't confirmed the volume of product spoilage, but I'm guessing it was outweighed by the value of the column inches the promotion acquired, given that round 2 is being promoted already, although (small print alert) the eggs aren’t being released till January.

When it comes to gaming the system with purchase-necessary competitions, there is of course a line in the sand. For the absence of doubt, contaminating food with cooties is over that line. Likewise, while wombling Lucozade bottles is perfectly acceptable, stealing McDonald’s Monopoly stickers at knifepoint is absolutely not.

I can understand someone's reluctance to munch through that much junk food, but it’s important to know when a promotion simply isn't for you. Case in point: US$300 prize money would never get me sitting in a coffin for 30 hours, but each to their own. As Tina Seelig might say, how you make your luck is a matter of individual choice (and to state the obvious, knife crime is a BAD choice).

For the purpose of clarity, it's always worth distinguishing between fortune, chance and luck. To return to Tina Seelig (with thanks to Di Coke for sharing this article!):
Fortune is things that are outside of your control, things that happen to you. I’m fortunate to be raised by a loving family. I’m fortunate to be born in this place and time. I’m fortunate to have blue eyes. Chance is something you have to do; I have to take a chance. It requires action on your part in the moment. Buy a lottery ticket. Ask someone on a date. Apply to a job. Luck is something where you have even more agency. You make your own luck by identifying and developing opportunities in advance.
A few years back, I chose to be more lucky - and so I am. I didn't get here by magic - anyone who makes the right decisions can make themselves equally lucky - if not more so.

To this end, I hope your 2019 is full of great opportunities and really good decisions!

Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!