How to run an ethical prize promotion

I recently posted about the holiday prizes people want to win in 2018 and that brought to the front of my mind an issue that I’ve been thinking about for a while: ethical prize promotions.

The promotions Prizeology runs are ethical in that they’re fair and they comply with the CAP Code, but what I’m talking about here are promotions which minimise damage to the environment and its human and animal populations.

Like so many others, I was engrossed by Blue Planet II, which highlighted the impact large numbers of visitors can have on popular destinations and the discarded plastics filling up our oceans and killing wildlife. I found the recent news that 2017 was the hottest year on record concerning and I welcomed supermarket Iceland’s announcement that it be plastic-free by 2023.

I appreciate these are complex issues, and you could argue that this is only one supermarket and 2023 isn’t soon enough anyway, but surely it has to be a move in the right direction? Which leads me to the question of whether we in the promotional marketing industry could and should be doing more to reduce our impact on the planet?

No one wants to receive a prize that’s just been casually shoved in an envelope – at Prizeology we take pride in how we present and deliver prizes to our winners – but at the same time perhaps we should consider offering prizes that minimise plastic and are responsibly packaged?

Even though the marketing industry tends to be an early adopter of new technology, and at Prizeology we can and do send prize vouchers electronically, we also post them out. Obviously, we don’t want to exclude entrants because they don’t have smart phones – or upset our clients! – but should we encourage the companies we work for and the consumers entering our promotions to go paper-free?

I no longer eat meat or animal products of any kind, but if I’m really concerned about animal welfare what about the prizes Prizeology sources? I’m very clear that I would never run a promotion offering an opportunity for the winner to hunt big game. Frankly, I don’t think any of my clients would want this, and I doubt it would attract many entries anyway, but what about a holiday package that included elephant rides or a trip to a marine life theme park?  These shouldn’t be options for prize winners.

Is a staycation a more ethical prize than flying winners to Australia? Is it ethical to offer a car as a top prize? And is an electric car better than a petrol or diesel car? What about the provenance of clothing or food? Or products from companies with poor employment practices? Where should the lines be drawn?

It’s a conundrum, and clearly not one I can solve single-handed, but I don’t think it’s just me who’s wresting with these issues. I think consumers are increasingly concerned about the ethical aspect of the prizes we offer and in 2018 it’s something I’m going to talk more about to my clients.

If you have any thoughts on ethical prize promotions I’d be very interested to hear them, so do get in touch.

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador.

© 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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