Whatever you do, don’t ask the public!

Crayola must have been kinda blue when it’s recent online competition went into meltdown. Scientists had accidentally invented a new colour, which they called YInMn blue, but as that doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue Crayola, which was making a crayon in the never-before-seen shade, ran a prize promotion asking the public for a new name.

Now, to be fair to Crayola, they thought it through and didn’t fall into any of the usual prize promotion traps. There were daily prizes plus trips to Florida for six grand prize-winners, and 90,000 people offered up suggestions, so the promotion successfully built brand awareness. To avoid duplicates the online polling entry mechanism cleverly rejected names that had already been submitted and to keep control the terms and conditions stated that Crayola execs would choose the shortlist of five.

Blue Moon Bliss, Bluetiful, Dreams Come True, Reach For The Stars and Star Spangled Blue were then put to a public vote. The ultimate winner, with 40% of the online poll, was Bluetiful, which seemed like a good result because, frankly, the other options were all a bit of a mouthful, but of course the rest of the Internet didn’t agree. Oh no.

Crayola describes itself as the most colourful company on earth and some of the responses were certainly pretty colourful. In fact, the backlash was extraordinary, with most of the hue and cry centred around the fact that Bluetiful was a non-word and Crayola was teaching children, the primary users of their products, poor spelling. The complaints were more or less summed up by one US Twitter user, who perfectly illustrated the point when they wrote, “Kids are gonna be so confused with color names now.”

So the moral of the story is that if the result matters, for goodness sake don’t put it to the public vote, because Internet polls are unpredictable and carry way too much risk. Choose another type of prize promotion instead. As long as it has tight terms and conditions, a judged competition can create a lot of attention, but will generate outcomes that work for you, but there are plenty of prize promotion mechanisms which engage the public and give you full control (which is something Prizeology specialises in, of course).

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team.

© 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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