How to run a cracking Easter promotion

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I always say you can use pretty much any date in the calendar as the starting point for a prize promotion, but I do like Easter – and not just because I like chocolate. Easter isn’t quite so frenzied as Christmas and there’s generally a more relaxed atmosphere, so it’s slightly easier to make your promotion stand out and encourage people to give it the attention it no doubt deserves.

Health and beauty, fashion, travel – whatever sector you’re in, and even if you’re not a chocolate retailer, you can still orchestrate a promotion based on an egg hunt. It doesn’t have to be a physical one, it can be virtual, and you don’t have to centre it around eggs either. Other Easter-related themes obviously include chicks and chickens – OK, that’s eggs really – and bunny rabbits, bonnets, baskets and spring give plenty of scope.

Remember, Easter is a religious festival, though, so it’s worth treading carefully. A couple of years ago Cadbury’s were left scrambling when they were roundly criticised for leaving the word ‘Easter’ out of some of the publicity material for egg hunts on National Trust properties. This, people said, was wrong because it eliminated any religious connection. It all turned out to be something of a storm in an eggcup, but did provide a salutary lesson.

Last year, mind you, Cadbury’s played a blinder with its hunt for the white chocolate Cadbury’s Crème Eggs with cash inside. This was one of my favourite promotions of last year and, yes, it’s back for 2019, but this time there are more eggs out there and Cadbury’s has partnered with other brands there are some (presumably virtual) eggs hidden on other companies’ websites.

So how do you tell if a real Crème Egg is one of the elusive white chocolate ones without discreetly scratching off the foil with your fingernail? Apparently, the key is the nutritional information on the outside of the wrapper – it’s different for white chocolate, but keep that to yourself!

Of course, the synergy between Crème Eggs and Easter is perfect. The product could have been designed for an Easter promotion! But while I’m all for creative tie-ins, it is possible to get it wrong. I’m afraid the most brilliant promotion in the world wouldn’t persuade me to try a Marmite-flavoured Easter egg or, indeed, one with the delicate flavouring of a Pot Noodle. Both these have been genuine promotions and they divided the nation almost as effectively as… Well, I won’t go there.

And beware of falling into gender stereotypes, particularly with the CAP Code change which is due to come into effect later this year. The new rule, which applies not only to traditional advertising, but also to online promotions, states that gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence, must be avoided.

The Co-op is a notable example of what not to do on this front. In 2017 it got a lot of flak for an Easter egg campaign which had the tagline, “Be a good egg. Treat your daughter for doing the washing up.” Social media went into meltdown and references to doing the dishes were subsequently removed.

They may have different customs, and perhaps not all countries go quite so overboard on chocolate as we do in the UK, but Easter is marked and celebrated all over the world, so it also works well for a multi-national or even global promotion.

In Poland they chuck buckets of water over each other; on Corfu they smash crockery; and in Bulgaria they love a good egg fight, with the winner the one who emerges with their egg unbroken. Well, I haven’t actually seen these folk traditions with my own eyes, but that’s what the Internet says anyway.

This year Easter is relatively late, with Easter Sunday falling on 21 April, so there’s still time to launch an Easter promotion. As always, plan it carefully, make sure your terms and conditions are robust and that you’re complying with all the relevant rules and regulations, and get the follow-up right too, so pick your winners fairly and send out your prizes promptly.

Of course, I also like Easter because it’s an opportunity for some eggcellent puns and I have to tell you that makes me pretty eggstatic…

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist.

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