My favourite US prize promotions

If there’s something Americans do right, it’s promotional giveaways (and reality TV). Like in many other country’s prize promotions are a huge marketing tool used to optimise brand awareness and consumer-based consumption.

Growing up in America I can recall many prize promotions, my favourite being the gold coins that came inside crisp bags. The coins contained a variety of prizes, the top one being a cash prize of $10,000 and a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The more common wins being a bag of crisp and a bottled Pepsi which you could claim at participating stores.

Although my luck at them is about as good as my ability to tap dance, the popularity of prize promotion is undeniable. From Billion Dollar cash prizes to million-dollar homes, here are some of my favourite US prize promos.


In the spring of 2003 soft drink manufacture Pepsi launched their promotional contest “Play for a Billion.” The promotion ran from May 1, 2003 and ended with a two-hour live primetime TV special. During this time Pepsi consumers could find codes under the cap or on multipacks. Participants entered the code online for a chance to win 1 of 1 million $20 instant win prizes.

At a random draw, 1,000 finalists were randomly selected and flown to Orlando, Florida. The finalist had a chance at winning a guaranteed one million dollars and had the opportunity to play for one billion dollars.

One lucky participant won the one million dollars but failed to match the 6 winning numbers to win the One-billion-dollar prize.


Popular crisp Doritos launched their promotional campaign with Super Bowl XL in 2006. The Super Bowl to Americans is a great deal, think about the Champions League but on steroids. With that being said, ads for the Super Bowl are extremely popular. Companies are willing to pay thousands of dollars for an ad spot which are just as big as the game itself.

Doritos tasked participants with creating a 30 second commercial for Dorito’s products. They received 1,065 entries out of which 5 finalists were selected and awarded $10,000. The finalists were then flown out to Detroit where the 2007 Super Bowl Game was hosted. The ads were placed online prior to the game and opened for public voting. After a month-long of voting, “Live the Flavor” became the winning commercial.

The promotion was a success which came in the form of a 12% increase in Dorito sales. It ran annually until 2016.


HGTV is a home improvement channel that has been around since 1994 and is very popular in America. It seems there’s something oddly fascinating about watching home DIYS on tv, and I can confidently say I have spent hours watching HGTV.

In 1997 the channel launched their dream home giveaway where HGTV experts would build a house on their cable television channel and then pick a lucky winner. Additionally, the winner also receives an amazing vehicle.

Their latest dream home winner’s home and the accompanying prizes were worth $2,000,000. It is one of America’s biggest and most popular giveaways. In 2016 the giveaway received a total of 127 million entries.

Entry is open to residents of the United States aged 21 and over, you can even submit an entry every day.


Since 1996 Box Tops for Education has been one of the best promotional contests in America. The giveaway consists of students cutting out Box Top stamps that come in common pantry products like cereal. Each stamp is worth 10 cents and students collect them to earn money for their school. Boxtops has given over $940,000,000 since its launch in 1996.

I recall my school was able to raise about $30,000 and we got new books and tablets. This giveaway brings back fond memories as I can remember my dad helping me cut out the Box Tops and we’d put them in an envelope which I would hand to my primary school teacher.


Disney is no stranger to the world of prize promotion. It came as no surprise when they announced their latest giveaway. For the launch of their new cruise ship “The Disney Wish” and Disney is offering 50 winners the chance to be amongst the first to set sail.

To enter participants must follow @DisneyCruiseLine on both Instagram and Twitter. Secondly, contestants have to post a unique photo to their feed answering Disney’s monthly themed “what are you wishing for?” Lastly, they must hashtag their post with both #YearOfWishes and #Sweepstakes and tag @DisneyCruiseLine.

Aspiring contestants can find the monthly questions on Disney’s year of wish website.

It’s safe to say that prize promotions are one of the focus points of consumer culture in America. It is pretty obvious why; we all love free stuff! Giveaways are fun and exciting and who knows you may get lucky one day and end up with your dream home or a chance at a billion dollars. May the odds be ever in your favour.

Leonela Gonzalez, Prizeology Apprentice and newest addition to the dream team

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