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A contest doesn’t have to have a prize

July 19, 2006 by  

As advertisers struggle to come up with ideas to engage the elusive and fickle youth market, the incentive is always a topic of debate. What do you offer: free iPod, music, Sidekick, game console, cash?

How about… nothing? Or put a marketing spin on nothing and make it “bragging rights”? Here’s an example:
http://obey.msn.com/

Sprite Obey Mobile Pic GameObey is a mobile scavenger hunt. Each week, participants must take a photo of an object and submit it.

The fact that Sprite is the brand behind this is not obvious. The only obvious hint is the lemon-lime theme. (Put that and the name “Obey” together and you might recall Sprint’s old theme “Obey Your Thirst“) Hidden links take the user to more content where Sprite connects with consumers in the offline world via their Urban Games.

What’s most important is engaging your audience in a meaningful way that they will want to participate. A fun challenge without overt branding will be accepted. Allowing marketers and legal folks to muddy the concept with cross-sell messages, pages of legal disclaimers and all around bad judgement will surely lead to failure.

What are your thoughts? Is a prize incentive critical to success?
-Roland

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