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In it to win it: The Drum & PromoVeritas launch ‘Most Effective Promotion’ award

Entries are encouraged across any type of marketing activity that involves prizes

PromoVeritas has partnered with The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022 to launch the ‘Most Effective Promotion of the Year’ to celebrate the best and most effective promotional activation – which might include a prize draw, competition, giveaway, reward scheme, experiential or instant win campaign.

This brand-new category launches as PromoVeritas celebrates its 20th year of running promotions on-pack, online, on social and more. Brands and their agencies are encouraged to enter into the awards any type of marketing activity that involves using prizes to encourage consumer activation. Entries will be judged on innovation, creativity, ‘wow factor,’ clear strategic thinking, a good brand and audience fit, effectiveness and tangible results.

The Drum caught up with Jeremy Stern, founder and chief executive, PromoVeritas, to find out what it takes to run a successful promotion and why on-pack is coming back.

Jeremy, I have to ask – are you really the real Willy Wonka?

Well, in a recent documentary Channel 4 described me as a cross between the Easter Bunny and Willy Wonka because for the last 10 years we have run the Cadbury Creme Egg promotions that involve prize winning eggs being hidden across the country. But I’m more like Wonka’s assistant, Arthur Slugworth; I’m that secretive character who turns out to be a good guy. We’re the ones that do all the logistics, operational and security work for those Willy Wonka golden ticket-type promotions. We help create these ideas and bring them to fruition.

Why do you think promotional activation does not get the credit it deserves?

I think it’s a question of semantics. Younger agency personnel don’t say they run ‘promotions’ but ask them if they engage with consumers on social media to win prizes, and they’ll say they do it all the time. They might call them ‘social activations’ or ‘giveaways’ but ultimately they are promotions. We must broaden that terminology to reflect what is happening today. It’s rare to see a brand that’s not doing some form of giveaway on social media channels. They’ll call it a competition or a prize draw, rarely a promotion. But that’s the industry term that we use, and it all falls under this.

What’s the next big thing for promoters?

Over the past two years brands haven’t wanted to do big on-pack offers and shout about holidays in the sun, for obvious reasons. But the mood is changing; holidays are back on the agenda, and cash and electric cars seem to be dominant prizes at the moment. In terms of the mechanics, social media will continue to be a big driver – but of low-value activities, because it’s not normally purchase related. For the really big fun campaigns you need the linkage back to the sale of the product and on-packs are definitely coming back, loud and clear. There will also be increased interest in special techniques that are creative, stand out and get people talking and I think we’ll also see a trend toward more immediate instant gratification activities that are purchase-linked so promoters will be able to measure their success and get a financial return.

What is the secret of running a successful promotion?

Having a strong creative idea and hook, a natural fit and a link between the brand, the prizes and the audience. Being bold and doing it impactfully. If you’re going to run a promotion, slap it over the pack and make a difference. Don’t hide it. So many purchase decisions are made at the point of sale. If it’s not seen, it won’t have the impact it deserves. The other thing about using a prize budget is to go for volume, not necessarily value. More prizes equals more success. And finally make sure it’s legal. There are lots of rules and regulations around promotions – especially if you’re marketing to children or running on an alcohol brand. Even if you’re simply giving away a holiday, there are many travel rules to consider. So whatever the promotion, make sure it’s run properly, fairly and legitimately with clear Terms & Conditions and full compliance with the CAP Code or local rules. As an industry, we must ensure that we go above and beyond to demonstrate our fairness without ruining the creativity and essence of our business.

Do you have an all-time favorite promotion?

Back when I was a client, ‘Coke Auction,’ which ran 20 years ago, was pretty avant-garde at the time because it involved unique codes on bottles that you would enter into a virtual account and bid for items, prizes and rewards on the Coke Auction website. It was very advanced in the sense it was using an online platform in the early days and using digital codes. My favorite PromoVeritas campaign is undoubtedly Dairylea’s ‘Does your packet moo?’ featuring a light activated sound chip replacing a cheese triangle, that moo’d when discovered by the lucky shopper who won a £10,000 holiday. It was radical and innovative, and I personally traveled the country to secretly place the winning packs into shops. There’s lots of inspiration available on our website.

Why have you launched this new category for The Drum Awards for Marketing 2022?

It’s about making a mark for promotions for consumer engagement and recognizing that it is a separate discipline. Promotions can be run in any media – on-pack, in-store, on social media, TV, press and radio – but few regard it as a specific industry. Too often it’s just part of something else. PR and digital agencies will run promotions, but they need to know they are running promotions and understand the science, strategy, execution and legal aspects of these promotions and their obligations. It’s about bringing the practicalities to the attention of the marketing audience. Promotions can run in any media – on-pack, in-store, on social media, TV, press and radio – but few regard it as a specific industry. The aim is to raise the profile of the value of promotions at generating sales.

And what will a stand-out entry look like to you?

As a judge I would be looking for creativity and understanding of the consumer. It is about how the choice of media is combined with a captivating brand centric idea wrapped up with relevant prizes and a clear and easy to use entry mechanic – ideally liked to a product purchase. Hopefully there will also be evidence of sales success and positive consumer response. Finally, I hope to see entries from a wide range of media, supporting our view that promotions are agnostic, they can run across different media, from radio to print, TV to packaging. But most of all there has to be some sort of ‘wow factor’ that makes it effective and a success.

The super early-bird deadline for entries for ‘Most Effective Promotion of the Year’ is on November 17 2021; the early-bird deadline is on December 15 2021; and the final entry deadline is on March 23 2022. Enter your work here.

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