Three brands that nailed online competitions in 2015

Online competitions are a potential minefield for digital advertisers. I’ve looked at three of the best from 2015, and explained just what it was that made them work.

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Crafting a competition that engages your fans, captures genuinely useful data and is seen and shared with lots of people is a hard thing to get right. If you crack it, you’ll be rewarded with positive brand association, increased traffic to your site and more engaged fans on your social channels – this is particularly helpful as organic Facebook reach is pitiful against paid promotion these days.

So, I’ve trawled the web and asked for recommendations from fellow marketing folk and “compers” (the affectionate name for people who love to enter competitions), to compile a list of the three brands that nailed running an online competition this year.

My criteria was simple. A great competition needs to play by the rules, whether that’s the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) or Facebook guidelines; nobody wants to see brands asking for page likes as entries or changing their terms and conditions halfway through. The competition also needs to have a clear brand message, lots of positive chatter on social, and of course, the icing on the cake – loads of entries.

Here are my top three online competitions from 2015.

Reebok: Hunt the Pump 2015-12-18 16-54-45

To launch their new ZPump trainer, Reebok created a landing page on its site, giving users instructions on how they could take part in an Instagram-led treasure hunt.

Fans had to view the ‘startingline’ Instagram account and find the hidden pump logo in one of the images. They were asked to like that image then follow the tag on the image to find the pump on the next account. All the images in the treasure hunt are set in San Francisco which is quite fitting as it’s known as one of the greatest running cities in the world. The users who reached the virtual finish line were put in a prize draw to win a shiny new pair of ZPump Reebok trainers.

This ticks all the boxes for me, especially as it was a campaign a colleague was still talking about six months after it was over. It’s perfectly on brand and effectively uses Instagram for great execution. It goes to show the power of the brand when all you are giving away is ‘the chance to win’ a pair of trainers. That’s my only niggle, Reebok should have pumped more money into the prizes available.

National Geographic: Wanderlust 2015-12-29 14-48-32

Instagram has become a popular platform for competitions in 2015, with the ability to hone great, inspirational visual UGC and this brand has successfully captured the imaginations of many. Wanderlust was a competition to crowdsource beautiful travel imagery, with a whopping prize package for the winner, chosen by a renowned photographer.

With a Honda car strategically placed on the competition page, you didn’t need to look far to see who this competition was sponsored by. Presumably they stumped up the cash for the seven day Yosemite Park prize package, a photo tour nonetheless. The winning image is proudly displayed and it really is fantastic. No doubt the competition helped bolster the 6.9 million Instagram fans for National Geographic and I hope they do more of this in 2016.

Munch Bunch: Squashums Selfie 2015-12-18 16-40-30

It’s not just us adults that get all the fun of a competition, there are plenty of brands targeting our offspring too. Thanks to Di from for her suggestion of this competition by the Nestlé brand, Munch Bunch.

The premise is simple. Help your child share a selfie (or take one of yourself if you are indeed a true fan, sans-children) with the Squashums product, upload to their website and cross your fingers your photo is chosen. The competition is still running, and each week the winner bags an iPad mini, so it’s well worth an entry. Prizes can make or break the whole campaign. Too niche or low value, people won’t bother. Follow Munch Bunch’s lead and choose an item everyone covets. A tablet is a luxury that many parents may not be able to afford, but surely every kid will be asking for one.

Keeping the mechanic of entry simple will encourage more entries – let’s not forget, people are inherently lazy. There’s a reason creative competitions are often low entry. The selfie photos Munch Bunch have gathered make excellent, fun content for their site and social channels.

I’m planning on sharing some of my top tips for developing and deploying competitions in 2016 but, in the meantime, we’d love you to share any competitions that have peaked your interest in the comments below.


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  • Heather Weir commented on December 30, 2015:

    Loved the Joules competitions this year – firstly ‘design a welly’ was lots of fun and I encouraged my family to have a go.

    The pinterest comp was also great – lovely merchandise to look through and pick your favs.

    Loving pinterest comps generally and the more you do, the better you get!

    Reply →
    • Jessica Maccio commented on December 31, 2015:

      I also entered the Joules competition, Heather. I loved the concept to actually have your design made and sold. It will be interesting to see the final winner.

      We’ve also seen a huge increase in Pinterest competitions this year, you can definitely get lost for hours entering those. Best of luck to you for 2016!

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