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May 24, 2005
Which value do online competitions bring to a brand?

Online competitions are one of the trends of the moment in consumer marketing. Recently I’ve been posting a lot about online quizzes, sweepstakes, on-pack promotions connected to a Web site, advergames with prizes, contests, lotteries etc...

No matter what’s the target audience, it seems that giving away prizes is one of the only ways brands are able to find to engage their prospects. Creativity and originality in the game idea are not expressed at their best in most of these initiatives, which appear to be brilliant and trendy only in the prizes they are awarding: iPods. And this takes my analysis to the question in the title: what’s the value for a brand of setting up an online competition? In my opinion, if you give away iPods, the only brand which takes advantage of the fact is Apple.

Why consumer brands don’t give away (mostly) their own products? Aren’t they valued to be “cool” enough as prizes? I don’t think this is positive…

No doubt that more and more consumers, who are affected by the “instant-millionaire syndrome” (Belch & Belch, 2003), and therefore love contests and sweepstakes. But we need to ask ourselves why they’re so attracted by these initiatives.
What is so appealing? The prizes, or brand behind the promotion?
If the answer is “the prizes”, than it’s easy to realize contests don’t bring much value to the brand. People are just exposed to the brand name for a given period of time (seconds? minutes?) but actually they are not engaged in a relationship with the brand or the product which presents the contest.
Don’t give prize-hunters what they desire, give them what you want your target audience to consume. So if you sell cereals, don’t award an iPod, rather assign a one year supply of your product. It will probably cost you less and winners will remember of you.
And if you really want to give away iPods make at least the gaming mechanism product relevant.

Comments on this entry

Companies don't give away their own product because they don't want to devalue it in the minds of the consumer by equating it with something you can get for free. Plus, all the "free iPod" banners have added a sense of scam to that tactic.

Posted by: Todd W. at May 24, 2005 09:31 PM


I believe that the novel and biggest value of online advertising is the experience dimension: the ability to provide a brand experience to the consumer. If the online campaign is centered around a well crafted and rich interactive experience design, that truly conveys the brand propositions - than we have a winner. Only if the core concept is weak, than prize may overshadow the brand.

As a successfull example, take nordic cola's christmas campaign - they gave a swedish make mp3 player too - though, by no means prize stole the show.

Posted by: Can Saracoglu at May 25, 2005 11:31 AM


People react to the idea of something for nothing, so incentives, commonly chance-to-win, is a way to grab peoples attention to pull them into the brand. They key is to incorporate your brand message into the experience and quickly act on the data collected as part of the promotions regsistration. The prizing is a critical element, but should not drive the promotion - the strategy should. Prizing must be connected to the brand or campaign message, something the target audience aspires to, can't get on their own, would have a hard time organizing, has long term value, etc. Best prizing setup - one exciting aspirational prize, and a lot of smaller prizes awarded instantly.

Posted by: Bob Marsh at May 26, 2005 01:47 PM


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