Popular crisp brand Walkers was left hung out to dry by the British weather in 2010, when its ‘guess where it will rain and win £10’ promotion saw them pay nearly £1.3m in prize money.

Participants entered a code found on special bags into the competition website, where they were shown a map of the UK divided into 21,000 squares. Contestants had to select one of the squares and predict when they thought it would rain there. If even a millimetre of rain fell in a three hour period, they won £10.

Now, as I’m sure you know, it rains in the UK. A lot. Particularly in October and November. The promotion is estimated to have had nearly 130,000 winners – after results were validated by the MET Office – meaning a cool £1.3m prize fund to pay out. Surely way more than they would have planned.

What does good look like?

Promotions and contests are a fantastic way to engage an audience and customer base, but the mechanics of the competition have to be in your control – as well as having a firm grip on the odds of paying out. You don’t want to make it too hard to win, but having a winner every time it rains in the UK must have felt like the floodgates had opened.

If you’re planning on a running a promotion, consider whether liaising with the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM)  – who offer their members legal advice – or a sales promotion risk management company might ‘save you a packet’. Ahem.

Moving forward

What’s the moral of this Bad Marketing story for you? What should Walkers have done differently? What will you do differently in future in your own work?

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