#SMsceptic: Companies, Stop Giving Away iPads!

Facebook Meh imageA month or so ago, I was at Hollywood Bowl in Cardiff Bay with the BNI Quinnell guys (back when I was still a member of the group) for a social event outside of our weekly morning meetings.

In addition to the screens above the lanes that were playing all sorts of music videos, there were a few screens with the occasional marketing message: food offers, game offers, etc. At one point, they flashed up information regarding their Facebook Page, with the following statement:

“Like us on Facebook and you could win an iPad!”

Bowling balls imageAck! I remember moaning to one of the other BNI Quinnell guys – also a marketer – about how it’s always, always, always a bloody iPad! Poor guy just wanted to bowl but there I was, ranting away…!

My issue isn’t with the strategy being implemented, but with the prize being offered. It’s not because I have anything against Apple (hell, I own an iPad and I love it)! I just find it frustrating that so many companies lean on giving away an iPad because – in my opinion – it’s a completely wasted opportunity!

Why not give away something relevant to your business instead? Hollywood Bowl could’ve given away a custom bowling ball or custom team bowling shirts. In addition to being a bit more original than giving away a product that every other company is currently giving away, a relevant product would complement your own products/services. For example, if someone won a bowling ball or bowling shirts, they might decide to then use them at Hollywood Bowl, encouraging return visits and increasing custom. The winner(s) could even share the photos of them using the ball/shirts on HB’s Facebook Page.

Granted, it’s not easy with some industries. I can’t remember who it was now, but I remember a car insurer that was also giving away an iPad. Having worked at an insurance company, I know first-hand that it’s not easy giving away free insurance as a prize, due to the trickiness surrounding the pricing (after all, what if the person who wins is expensive to insure?) and it’s also probably against FSA guidelines anyway. But even so… what about a car? If that’s too expensive (although the PR involved could be worth it!), then what about something that could go towards car maintenance (e.g. a Halfords or Kwik-Fit voucher), or a personalised number plate, or even go kart racing vouchers?!

There’s so much opportunity! Be original. Be relevant. Be fun. And stop giving away bloody iPads…!

[Image credits – Facebook Meh button: Sam Michel; bowling balls: Markus Zavalla]


  • Geoff

    August 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm Reply

    I wrote a much blunter blog post about this a while ago. In my view, the problem isn’t the prize, it’s the fact that this strategy encourages my own friends to spam me. It’s an evil, evil tactic, and I hate that it works.


    • Steve

      August 8, 2012 at 9:29 pm Reply

      Oh yeah – I remember seeing that post when you first published it.

      I agree 100%. It’s bad enough when marketers spam you, but when they rope your friends into it, it’s crossing a line.

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