This week Loquax celebrates it’s 24th Birthday. When we first sat down to create a website the idea was for a shopping portal. We thought it’d be useful to put together a site that listed the latest sales, offers and discounts. The problem with that was at the time (1998) there wasn’t much in the way of online shopping, discounts were offline, it was incredibly boring to do and we knew nothing at all about money saving. Hmmmm if only we’d stuck that idea out! Anyway we did know about competitions and so The UK’s first and now longest standing online service was born.
Shop & Win
Whilst reminiscing about the origins of Loquax myself and Kirsty chatted about where the site could of gone and the idea of Shop & Win was mentioned. Was it an idea that we’d come up with as we’ve come up with a fair few over the years and forgotten about many of them. Well actually “no” this wasn’t our idea. There was in fact a site called Shopandwin which described itself as “the place to find the best promotions, special offers and competitions running on UK shopping sites”. Kind of sounds like Loquax with shoppping! Anyway Shopandwin was a site from a company called Simplee Ltd who started life in the competition sector with a site called webcomp.co.uk – and there’s a banner on the archived shopandwin site linking to it.
Down Memory Lane
And this got us thinking that maybe once in a while we’ll take a fun walk down memory lane and (try to) recall some of the many sites that have long since sailed under the bridge or in some cases been flushed away. Seasoned compers surely must remember Freemoney.fm who initially dished out £1000 in cash a day whilst Jamba was a fun game site that also had plenty of prizes. We’ll be looking back at them another day. But for our first visit we’re heading to webcomp to see what we can remember about this site. Unfortunately after 24 years working online we do need to rely a little bit on Webarchive. Of course if you can help fill in any blanks or have memories to share then please feel free to leave comments below.
Who Were Webcomp?
Webcomp.co.uk launched in 1998 and described itself as “the gateway to all the best in competitions on the World Wide Web”. With a strapline like that it does sound like a competitor to Loquax but in fact – at least when it arrived during 1998 – this site hosted it’s own giveaways. To enter these giveaways visitors simply needed to answer a multiple choice question usually about the sponsor of the draw. Amongst the prizes on offer were cash, £100 to spend at Blackstar, £100 of lingerie, a magazine subscription and a pine bed. However if you check out the archive link we have provided you’ll notice a “win £3000” banner flashing away. But where was the £3000 competition?
£3000 Cash Prize
The banner actually references an original £3000 prize draw that ran on the site at launch. If we recall correctly all you needed to do to enter this prize draw was register with the site. Winners lists are still on webarchive and they tell us that the three large were won by a Carol Fiddes from Cheshire. Other big winners came from prize draws sponsored by Acco Europe (£500) whilst Webcomp aimed to generate more followers with a £1500 cash giveaway which resulted in David Charge winning the prize at the end of December 1999. Back in it’s day Webcomp was seen as quite progressive in the world of online advertising and sponsors could expect that “a typical 8 week competition will receive around 1200 entries”. Compare that to now when a typical social media competition can sometimes do that within a day!
Short Story Section
One element of Webcomp that was slightly off-piste was a short story section. Publishers could share extracts of up and coming novels with Webcomp. To try and tie that section in with the premise of the site there was a short story competition: a £100 cash prize was offered to “budding writers to give a classic story or current soap storyline a new twist”. As far as we know this promotion never actually generated a winner. The site also had a job vacancy where the right candidate could build the business for “10% of the profits up to £25,000. Then 15% up to a maximum of £100,000 per annum”. There was no indication of a salary so can only assume Webcomp were hoping to pick up someone for nothing!
So Where Are They Now?
By 2000 Webcomp had moved to promoting other competition sites such as MyOffers, Blartly.com, Cheeky Monkey and The Daily Draw. We’ll be looking back at them another day. The webcomp domain now points to an app download on the App Store whilst shopandwin looks like it was eventually picked up by Spar UK/Spar NI for a promotion (now closed). The Simplee Limited company dissolved in July 2010 whilst it’s parent company of TexBridge Communications closed in 2016. There probably was a good idea at the time with respect to webcomp.co.uk but once online retailers figured that they could easily run prize draws themselves – and use listing sites for free – there probably was little need for them to pay someone else for the pleasure. Eventually Webcomp called it a day around 2004/5 but it’s giveaways had long since met their demise.