The secret to compelling promotions: Creating instant winners instead of losers

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The McCain’s Great Village Raffle highlights the risk that poorly considered promotions can be seen to be unfair and create public cynicism and mistrust of the marketing industry. At PromoVeritas we always advocate both integrity and fairness. So what went wrong with McCain’s, Onken and others that ran similar campaigns and what can you do to avoid trouble?

The McCains promotion offered a staggering £3million worth of prizes including 10 Mini Cooper cars, hundreds of spa retreats and thousands of beauty treatments and piglet adoptions! However following complaints from the public, the ASA ruling in July 18 found that the on-pack promotion , “significantly exaggerated the likelihood of consumers’ chances of winning prizes,” and that “…the promotion was likely to cause unnecessary disappointment and concluded that it had not been conducted fairly”. The year-long promotion involved unique codes printed on more than 53 million packs. Enter the code on a website, and the system will tell you whether you are a winner. In the end via an algorithm – imagine a roulette wheel with 1,870 slots (53 million divided by 28,815, the number of prizes on offer) of which only one is a winner. This is marginally fairer than pre-allocated pack codes – but only just. In the end only 160 of the 28,815 advertised prizes were claimed, representing less than 1% of those on offer, and none the Minis or other star prizes.

The cause of the problem is purely down to  the low odds of winning at  just one in 1,870, combined with the fact that only 2 or 3% of purchasers typically enter an on pack. Inevitably they were not going to give away many prizes.McCain argued that the algorithm method was commonly used and had been approved

by the Institute of Promotional Markeing (The IPM), and that their Terms & Conditions and packaging clearly stated that “Although all prizes will be available to be won, there is no guarantee that all prizes will be won”. However, the ASA felt that the overall impression created by the promotional material was that there was a significant chance of winning and all the prizes would be made available which was misleading.

The solution?

Being able to offer millions of prizes, and only paying out for a few prizes, that are often covered under Fixed Fee arrangements, may seem appealing but you run the risk of disappointing millions of your consumers – and incurring the wrath of the ASA.

A far better alternative is to seek to give away the stated prizes and one of the best and easiest ways is to use a Winning Moments mechanic.  Instead of a route that seems to promote losing, Winning Moments is a much cleaner and fairer way of running exciting instant win promotions that give away all the prizes, generating public trust and love for the brand. The way it works is simple. Assume that there are 100 prizes, over a month. An independent third party (PromoVeritas) selects 100 moments (day, hour, minute & second) at random across the promotional period and the prizes are each randomly assigned to these ‘moments’. Then when an entrant submits their code to an entry site, an API checks with the secure server as to whether the entry time is the first on, or first after one of these Winning Moments. If so, then that entrant is a winner and told instantly. If the prize for that time period has already been claimed, then they are a non-winner. If no one enters between two Winning Moments, then the first prize is can either be rolled over to the next Winning Moment time period, or added to a Wrap Up draw at the end of the promotional period.

Why use winning moments?

  • Firstly, consumers get immediate feedback. They do not have to wait weeks for a distant prize draw. It is genuinely an Instant Win.
  • Secondly, provided you get a reasonable number of entries, relative to the number of prizes, it will usually ensure that all prizes are awarded, and this is a great way to generate positive publicity towards your brand.
  • Last of all, a Winning Moments campaign is relatively simple to implement, does not require complicated judging or sophisticated technology, just a bit of independent oversight, usually via a software audit and use of an API with a separate database of Winning Moments – which PromoVeritas can implement reasonably and efficiently.

To find out more about using Winning Moments, or for advice on all aspects of running promotions anywhere in the world contact PromoVeritas at or call +44 203 325 6000

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