I like contests. Especially contests where I have to submit photos, since I'm one of those annoying people always taking pictures. I'm also someone who doesn't get embarrassed very easily, so I'm perfectly comfortable taking unflattering pictures of myself especially if it means I can win a prize.
Back in high school, my local radio station was doing a contest to see who looked the most like their dog. Everyone had to submit pictures, and the winner received 4 tickets to Hershey Park. I love Hershey Park, and I loved my dog, so why wouldn't I have submitted something? Look at the picture I chose. I don't really look like my dog, but I was hoping it would be a funny and unique picture that was unlike any of the other submissions. I wanted to make sure they looked at mine and said "we HAVE to pick this girl. She's actually letting her dog's tongue touch her mouth." (I know there's a lot of controversy about whether it's gross to let your dog kiss you, but we'll save that for another time.)
Guess what? I won! I was so excited my crazy plan worked and especially since I won the free tickets. I still listen to Nancy and Newman every morning, and I can tell they're the type of people who appreciated my originality.
And now that I've been a part of the marketing world for a few years, I understand the point of contests and promotions. It's not for naive high schoolers looking to show off their pictures, so businesses can sit around and have a laugh; brands want customers to engage with them, so they can generate a following.
But Doesn't Originality Still Matter?
I think it's great for brands and businesses to run contests or promotions, and as a customer or a follower, I still get excited about them. But no matter what the intent of the promotion is -- whether it's to drive sales, create buzz around a new product, etc. -- I still want to feel like the brand is taking the time to look at my individual photo and appreciating my individual submission. And if my submission is hilarious, I would have tons of loyalty to a brand who appreciated a sense of humor and originality instead of something cliche and expected. Maybe it's just me, but it's something to think about.
So you can probably sense my bitterness over a contest I didn't win. This contest was last year, and I forget who was holding it but it was promoting Hershey Park's new roller coaster. I still love Hershey Park -- they weren't the ones directly holding the contest, and my ego isn't wounded that much. We were supposed to submit a photo of what we would look like on the new roller coaster. Now, I LOVE roller coasters. I love them. But I wanted to submit something original again and something that stood out from everyone else's roller coaster selfies. Before I reveal the picture my brother and I submitted (and lost with), here's an idea of what the winners looked like:
Okay, I'm sorry. But the winners literally submitted "excited selfies." Did they even look at the submissions, or did they just have an urge to pick photos that all looked the same? Nancy and Newman definitely did it right, if you ask me.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE...
This is what my brother and I submitted before we knew they were going to pick boring, cliche selfies:
We were sure we were going to win. I RUBBED GUACAMOLE ON MY FACE TO LOOK LIKE PUKE. I still crack up when I look at it! How could they not?! I guess I can understand if they were offended, because they thought we were saying we would puke on the new roller coaster. I already told you I love them ... I guess I shouldn't have expected them to be mind readers. But still. They shouldn't have been able to resist this picture over the excited selfies. Their lack of appreciation for what I felt was originality is probably the reason I forget the brand/business who hosted the contest.
We were sad when they didn't pick us, but we got creative and tried again later in the week. My grandma is amazing and always up for anything, so why not show what a 70-year-old would look like on the roller coaster?
We still didn't get picked. And that's when I decided they probably weren't actually looking at the entries or they just didn't think we were funny. That could have easily been the case. Maybe we're the only weirdos out there who found our guacamole-puke picture hilarious. I wouldn't be offended. But I figured I'd throw it out there...
My favorite things are the simple ones: day-long book binges, cozy candles, dog kisses, ink on your hands, tree stars (leaves for those of you who never watched The Land Before Time) sweater weather, new ideas, local craft beer, punctuation, and knotty saltwater hair. Desserts are my favorite meal. I'm a creative writer and editor, and I created this space to keep my writing reflexes sharp and to share my simple ramblings with you!