Contest Opt-In Rates: Subway Canada’s Good Stuff Giveaway

November 14, 2006

Norma Ramage wrote in today’s Marketing Daily:

Subway Canada’s Good Stuff Giveaway contest generated more than 807,000 entries during its seven-week run and increased the company’s customer database to 250,000 subscribers.

Final numbers when the contest closed Nov. 12 included 109,000 total unique e-mails and almost 21,000 opt-ins.

The contest, which launched nationally Sept. 25, was supported by TV and radio spots, in-store materials and e-mail marketing, all from Calgary’s Venture Communications. The TV campaign featured a fictional Subway “sandwich artist” resigning because he’s ineligible for the contest.

Bill Anderson, marketing director for Subway Sandwiches in Canada, says the campaign “allowed us to engage with our customers in a relevant way, inciting them to interact with the brand.”

Among the prizes were trips to Costa Rica, Kia Sorento SUVs, Columbia sports gear, electronics from Sony and Subway gift cards. Customers were encouraged to enter as often as once per hour for the gift cards, providing multiple engagement opportunities for the brand.

That is indeed a great opt-in rate, although a few points lower than we’re accustomed to seeing with our clients. Our kudos to Subway!

When Worlds Collide

November 9, 2006

I was having a look at The Race Site to see what’s going on in the world of sports car racing. Much to my surprise, the site serves up this ad:


This is one of the contests Upshift manages. Collision dead ahead!

Contests We’re Not Fond Of – Toyo Canada

November 7, 2006

This Toyo Canada contest is so bad that I actually thought about not commenting on it. Yes, we’ve seen much worse, but no matter how you slice it, this is not good work. Now, for a respected tire company, Toyo does make some great tires and, in fact, I’ve raced on some. Toyo is also the official tire supplier for Speed World Challenge, which is some of the most exciting road racing anywhere on the planet.

However. Deep breath.

Ignoring the childhood lesson I learned from Bambi, here’s why we’re not so fond of this contest:

- circa 1996 web technology

- entry form layout

- lack of an opt-in

- there are dead links to any sort of “prize package” description

- “um, where are the contest rules?”

- those colours!

- the dreadful copy (“please press once only”?)

Contests We Like – Smirnoff Cash In Your Chip Sweesptakes

November 7, 2006

With the new Bond movie fast approaching, Smirnoff has launched a new contest, the Smirnoff Cash In Your Chip Sweepstakes.

Why do we like it?

- very slick, media rich web site

- it’s Smirnoff

- the grand prize is a trip to the Bahamas

- and although the instant win code is available on pack, the contest site makes it easy for anyone to obtain a code without purchase very simply by email (this is the part we really like).

Well done!

Reader’s Digest, What Are You Doing?

November 6, 2006

The Reader’s Digest Association (Canada) Ltd. (RD) publishes contests on a regular basis, ranging from monthly $5,000 draws to car giveaways and many more. Currently they have a contest “Reader’s Digest 71st National Sweepstakes” where a selected few, actually only 8 percent of Ontario area households, are chosen and have a chance at winning the Grand Prize of $500,000.00, Multi-Prize Draw of $105,000.00, Super Bonus of $50,000.00, Cash On Demand of $33,750.00 and a $5,000.00 monthly prize. There are also other prizes available in this contest.

This “RD” contest first caught my eye when my boyfriend (we’ll call him Bert from now on) received two envelopes by snail mail at our home. When he opened them he immediately queried “is this is a scam?” I took the contents of both envelops and told him that I would read the contest details and would let him know if this was indeed a “scam” or not.

The first envelope contained a letter stating “Notice of selection for ‘Bert’. Potential finalist to win an instant $500,000.00 in the third and last stage of the 71st National Sweepstakes” and was full of reasons why he should NOT throw his chance of winning half a mill out. It even goes as far as using examples of actual people who threw away their chance of winning. “Some people, like Mrs. Abbatt of Notre-Dame-de-Grace, Quebec, let their Prize Draw Number sit on a mantelpiece or in a kitchen drawer until time runs out… a mistake that cost her $32,500.00!” They “changed her details to preserve her anonymity and to spare her embarrassment.” At the end of the letter it mentions that he will be receiving a second letter shortly, which will contain his 6 digit “Prize Draw” number.

The second envelope, which I might note was addressed to Bert, was much larger and arrived on the same day as the first envelope. This letter contained a cover letter addressed to someone else (we’ll call this fellow “Ernie”), a Reader’s Digest Finance letter confirming that TD Canada Trust has guaranteed and placed a reserve to cover payment of all the prizes in the Contest, a letter containing the previously mentioned “Prize Draw” number which also lists the prizes that he is eligible to win, four cheque specimens (pre-print ballots with Ernie’s name) attached to some documents describing what to do to enter the contest and why he should not delay in entering, and finally two reply envelopes, one YES and one NO. The entry process is simple enough, all you have to do is place the cheques into the YES envelope, apply sufficient postage and mail it. If you do not want to participate then send the cheques in the NO envelope or just don’t respond.

At this point I am going to mention to you some of my issues with this Contest:

1. Bert does not enter contests nor does he subscribe to “RD”, so “RD” must have purchased his name for their direct mailing. There is nothing illegal about this, however, it just doesn’t sit well with people like Bert who instantly think contests like these are scams.
2. The contents of the second envelope were clearly mixed up. This I would say is a big “no no”. Bert received Ernie’s personal information, specifically his mailing address and his contest entries. This is a clear violation of the Ernie’s privacy.

3. Other than the “Excerpts from Reader’s Digest 71st National Sweepstakes” I was unable to find the complete Official Contest Rules, not in any of the literature that Bert received, nor online.

Now, if this isn’t enough to make you want to run away while screaming “GET IT TOGETHER READER’S DIGEST!”, then this next point will.

This morning I received an e-mail from “RD” regarding “Win a Honda Accord”. I was a little intrigued, not by the contest itself but because of the recent “RD” events with Bert. So I clicked the link in my e-mail to enter the contest.


This image you see is what appeared on my screen. HMMMMM…? I thought. What does this have to do with winning a car? (By the way, this is where I was able to access the “Excerpts from Reader’s Digest 71st National Sweepstakes”.) Being naturally curious at this point, I decided to proceed. The next page that came up was “Real Life is Real Funny”. What this page displayed was the “Real Life is Real Funny” book for a discounted price. I clicked Continue.


Here is where it became interesting, if I purchase the so-called real funny book I will automatically enter into the “Win a Honda Accord” contest. I was not willing to purchase a book that I would most definitely not find funny, for the chance of winning a car.


WHAT?? Now we are back to the 71st National Sweeps again. I am beginning to feel dizzy. I fill out my information and click “NO”.


Now to end my little (or, should I say, long) tale, I have to say this; Reader’s Digest’s 71st National Sweepstake seems to be a legitimate contest but I have quite a few problems with their direct mail deployments, contest rules and entry processes. Consumers in this day in age do not want to be solicited by mail, go through hoops to enter a contest or have to purchase something to potentially win a prize. “RD” needs to move into the 21 century when it comes to the way they run their contests.

And to answer your question Bert, no, I don’t think this is a scam.

*All quotations and references were taken from The Reader’s Digest 71st National Sweepstakes mailings, website and Excerpts from Reader’s Digest 71st National Sweepstakes.

Contests We Like – Export Development Canada (B2B)

November 1, 2006

We found an FSI in yesterday’s Globe and Mail for Export Development Canada and inside was a call to enter their B2B Fly Abroad to Export Success Contest.

While it’s not flashy or splashy, we think it’s going to work for EDC. Why do we like it?

1. It’s clearly targeted.

2. The entry process is simple and easy to understand.

3. The rules are clear and well-written.

4. They ask just two questions about the entrant and politely ask for an opt-in.

Sometimes simple can be effective!

Toronto Star Why Ask Why Ends Well

October 30, 2006

I received my thank you email from the Toronto Star this morning:


This is the perfect way to end the Why Ask Why contest that has engaged players on a consistent, daily basis. Thank you, Toronto Star, for thanking me. It’s far more than what other similar contests do.

The email also includes a subtle and tasteful ask for subscriptions and classifieds.

Well done, Toronto Star. We hope the contest has been a success.

A Clever Tourist Contest

October 30, 2006

While strolling through the very touristy downtown Nassau, Bahamas this weekend, we saw one of the most clever retail contests we’d come across in a long time. Sorry, no links or photos of the actual contest, so I’ll have to describe it here.

One of the many jewelery stores on the main drag featured a poster which was promoting their contest about “win a trip back to the Bahamas”. It was a clever way to get you into their store and differentiated this store from all the others we walked by.

I have to throw in just one Bahamas photo. This is Atlantis, enjoy!


Contests We’re Not Fond Of – Vachon

October 23, 2006

Instant win contests can be used in a lot of fun and interesting ways. Generally, we see them in retail and this fall we seem to be working on more than a few.

While this contest is not one we’re working on, it’s worthwhile to review here in this blog. The Vachon Sweet Taste Of Retirement contest uses instant win for their standard prizes, but also prize indemnity for their match-and-win grand prize, $50,000 a year for life (or a $900,000 lump sum). The contest scratch cards appear in a number of Vachon products, like this Jos. Louis box.



The design of the box sticker and ballot are OK, but the sticker is perhaps a bit difficult to see at retail. Perhaps contest-specific packaging might make sense.


On our contest card, we received the “V”, but otherwise didn’t win an instant win prize.

Why are we not fond of this one? The most significant shortcoming is the lack of an odds statement within the contest rules, since this is a legal requirement for Canadian contests. Vachon certainly knows the odds for the instant win prizes and, despite what their ‘statistician’ may say, the odds for the match-and-win grand prize are calculable. At minimum, this is misleading to consumers and not a course of action we recommend to clients.

Contests We Like – Canadian Club C To C

October 18, 2006

CC was my grandfather’s drink. CC is my drink. We’re Canadian, so it’s natural that we love a contest that has anything to do with Canadian Club.

I had a meeting at the Manulife Centre in downtown Toronto the other day and was looking for an excuse spend some money to see that at least I got my parking validated. The Manulife Centre has the best parking garage in Toronto, in my opinion. It’s always the right temperature, classical music plays throughout the garage and they have a fantastic window washing station, along with complimentary windshield washer refills.

Anyway, I dropped by the liquor store to pick up something that was going to be consumed regardless and they had their whiskey promotion feature in store. I couldn’t miss the bottle of Canadian Club with the contest and freebie 50 ml on the neck.



The Canadian Club C To C Contest offers two grand prize winners a choice of three adventure trips. How perfect is that theme?

This contest is a straightforward fixed-odds structure, using a peel-and-reveal card. Odds are clearly stated in the (brief) contest rules. We haven’t seen one of these used for a brand promotion in quite a long time and it was cool to see the ol’ peel-and-reveal in action.


Sadly, we didn’t win a prize, but we still like the contest, since it’s all about Canadian Club.

[Pssst! Maxxium! Next time I'd like to see a little more creativity, OK? Great! Thanks.]


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