Last month Brad Schwarzenbach warned marketers to be wary when running online contests. If a contest is not well thought out from the very beginning, the results could be disastrous. Just ask the people at Stride Gum.
The “do us a favor and rename our lastest flavor” contest
Back in April, Stride Gum wanted help with renaming its mint-flavored gum, which had been called Nonstop Mint. The rules were simple: Submit your original idea in 50 characters or less, inclusive of the word “mint.” Enter as often as you’d like. Judges would pick the top ten finalists and then the public would vote on the winner. Grand prize: $10,000 and a year’s supply of Stride Gum.
Close any loopholes
Contestants had to submit their own original ideas. Years ago, I was pitching reality television shows to networks and agencies in Los Angeles. Before they would take an appointment, I always had to sign a waiver. This essentially said that I was aware that the network or production company could have the exact same concept in development, and if so, I recognized that they could have come up with the idea independent of me.
At the time, I thought I was giving them a license to outright steal my ideas, but now I do recognize that different people can, and often do, come up with the same ideas. The executives at Stride probably should have known this, too.
And the winner is And the winners are
You probably know what happened. As the public began voting, the marketing people at Stride realized that multiple people had come up with some of the names the judges picked and the public was now voting on. But there was no rule in place to deal with awarding the grand prize to more than one winner. They immediately called off the contest, blaming a “technical glitch.”
Now Stride had a problem. Their promotion turned into a bit of a PR nightmare. People were bad-mouthing their brand online. Stride’s solution was to increase the prize money and ask for forgiveness. Here’s what they sent to contestants.
Thank you for your entry and for your enthusiasm around our Rename Nonstop Mint™ contest. Your Nonstop Mint™ name idea was awesome, but we had a technical glitch in connection with the selection of the finalists and therefore, had to close the voting and the contest.
We are really sorry about this, especially after we saw such energy for the contest, with you and all our STRIDE® fans.
We are still going to give away great stuff and money – and more than you thought. We will be conducting a drawing among all those who submitted names, and five people randomly selected each will get $25,000. Yup, you read that right – you are eligible. Stay tuned, and we will reveal those people shortly.
Of all the contestants who submitted entries, Stride randomly drew five winners and gave them each $25,000. The rest got a few boxes of gum. This made five people very happy and angered everyone else.
The lesson here is simple. Make sure your contest is well planned and the rules are clear and cover all contingencies. And the rules shouldn’t be clear only to your contestants; they should be clear within your marketing department, too. A contest can sometimes be a great way to garner attention. Just make sure you execute well so that the attention is positive.