Do Successful Compers Really Need to be “Devious”?

Published on 24th August 2010

Competitions are in the press again thanks to an interesting article in The Telegraph called Win Big From Competitions. The article tries to put across a message that you can do well from doing competitions but elements of the article may well be disheartening to many who enjoy the comping hobby and who play by the rules.

One line from the piece that stands out for us, other than our own soundbite, is “being a successful comper requires strategy, an understanding of statistics and a high level of deviousness”. Do compers really need to be devious to be successful? We’d hope not! Comping should be fun and fair and this implication of looking for loopholes or bending the rules most certainly won’t put us all in a good light.

However, incidents do occur that bring compers into conflict with promoters and also with each other.

Edwin Mutton, a well known name from the Institute of Sales Promotion, mentions in the article that he knew “a trading standards officer who bought £1,000 of Magnums and made £5,000”. However, back in 2009 when this competition had concluded we likened the Magnum competition to be more of a gambling promotion. The comment from Mr Mutton further emphasises that. Quite simply, people played the odds on this “competition”. The activity, whilst within the rules also upset a lot of participants.

The same “it’s just gambling in disguise” analogy can also be applied to the current Pepsi promotion. If you buy £100 of Pepsi and win one Flip Camera then that covers your costs. If you win two from that £100 outlay then you’ve doubled your money. Of course there’s the possibility you win nothing!

We’re not sure this activity can be classed as devious though. People taking this approach are just simply playing the odds at the line where a what is a competition and what is gambling becomes very blurred.

Another talking point comes from Steve Middleton of Compers News who is quoted as saying “There are some [compers] sitting on 100 mobile phones in order to enter these competitions”. and most certainly there are compers with a number of “comping mobiles”.

We’d be surprised if this wasn’t true!

Mind 100 mobiles sounds insane as there’s just not enough room down the side of the sofa for them all to congregate. However, if it’s allowed within the rules to enter via 100 mobiles then you can question whether it’s devious or again playing the odds? It also does make you wonder why there aren’t more restrictions in place though – a simple “text in your name, address” element would at least partly quash that issue.

The article holds some fascination as it’s a mini insight into what can go on in comping. We’re not sure devious is a fair word within the article content. Devious would be for example something like someone within a promotions agency tipping off someone about when is the best time to enter an instant win comp, or employee’s of a promoter entering (and winning) their competitions.

Playing the odds may be regarded as devious, but in another light it could just be ingenuity based on the rules of the promotion.

However, such activity may be frowned upon by other compers and it’s understandable why some may be put off comping after reading the article. The key is to remember that it only covers a small element of the hobby (instant win on pack competitions). Most competitions only allow one entry per person or address, and many compers play well within the rules.

If you’re in a position to “gamble” on volume purchases or maintain 100 mobile phones then that’s your decision. But, if you’ve read that article and think that’s what I have to do to be successful then be careful. Please don’t feel that you need to splash the weekly shopping budget on bulk buying of products. Remember to treat comping as a bit of fun and enjoy it within your own means and moral compass.

And let’s hope that one day promoters eventually get round to making sure their competitions terms are watertight, so that they are fair for all participants. This article may well make one or two look more closely at their rules.

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