Review of the year – best and worst prize promotions of 2018

So 2018 is coming to an end and it seems like a good idea to take stock. Well, everyone else does it, so I thought I should probably do it, too! I really enjoy those end-of-the-year round-ups. Yes, they remind you that time is passing, but they’re very handy when you’ve been so busy during the previous 12 months that you’ve missed a few key news events (although I did register that Harry and Megan got married and I have clocked that the UK is leaving the EU in March but there doesn’t seem to be much of a plan for that yet).

For Prizeology it’s definitely been a good – actually make that great – year. We’ve worked with some lovely clients on some really interesting projects, but one highlight for us was undoubtedly the response we received to our white paper on what the public thinks about influencer marketing. It caused quite a stir and if you’re one of the handful of people on the planet who hasn’t read it – even my mum has! – you can download it here.

However, we were equally proud of the research we published about scams and how vulnerable young people are to them. You can download that white paper here, along with a short guide to how to avoid falling for a scam.

Anyway, more importantly, what kind of year has it been for the prize promotions industry? I’ve picked out three high points and three low points. You’ve probably got your own views, but for me these moments represent the best and worst of 2018.

It’s been a good year for…


Cadbury’s released 371 white chocolate Crème Eggs with money hidden in them. Why 371? I’ve no idea. Perhaps there was a reason, but they were certainly as rare as, er, hen’s teeth. Apparently, no one ever found the egg containing the top prize of £2000, although there are a couple of cash-less ones currently on eBay (if you’re interested, one’s £1000 buy it now, the other’s £50) and it was certainly an eggcellent campaign.

Football fans and petrol heads

Summer 2018 and we all thrilled by the World Cup and the somewhat surprising success of Gareth and the boys (no, England didn’t actually win the World Cup, but it felt like they had). Every time the England football team scored, Auto Trader gave away a car. It was a brilliantly simple concept, no doubt underpinned by astute promotions management to mitigate the financial risk, and I loved it.


The Absolut Creative Competition is running in 19 – that’s 19 – countries. Now just take a moment to think about how complex the Ts&Cs are for that. Promoters aren’t often this bold and I applaud Absolut. Entrants are asked to make some art featuring the Absolut bottle silhouette and the competition doesn’t close until the end of January, so you’ve still got time to dash off a quick daub and submit it if you live in one of the 19 countries.

It’s been a bad year for…

GDPR and winners’ lists

When GDPR came into force at the end of May it was definitely a good thing, but it did cause something of a shake-up in the prize promotions world. At first it seemed that producing winners’ lists, as required under the CAP Code, wouldn’t breach GDPR, but later in the year the ASA launched a consultation on the issue. This closed on 7 December and at the time of writing there doesn’t seem to be any further news, so at present the ASA isn’t applying rule 8.28.5 of the CAP Code. This leaves everyone in limbo and could be used as an excuse by unscrupulous promoters for not running a promotion properly, which undermines the whole industry.


They fluffed it up, didn’t they? Build-A-Bear’s pay your age promotion was an inspired idea, but the sort of reputational damage the company suffered when it ran out of bears can take years to repair. At the risk of being as repetitive as one of the voice boxes they put in the teddies’ tummies, they just didn’t think it through properly.

Louise Thompson

And finally… I won’t dwell on this – Louise knows what I think. Suffice to say, in 2018 our Lou was ticked off by the ASA not once, but twice, which was quite a feat. Let’s hope she minds her Ps and Qs from now on and that 2019 isn’t third time (un)lucky for her…

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist. 

© Prizeology and The Prizeologist Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.



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