We’ve all seen the TV ads: A man with a microphone and a bouquet of flowers walks up to a house and rings the doorbell. The adult who answers is handed a check that’s bigger than the car in his driveway (both actually and figuratively) while lots of screaming family members leap up and down with excitement over the windfall. The Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol strikes again, only this time, I was caught in their trap …
I was minding my business playing an online game, when, between turns, I was presented with an invitation to enter the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes and win $5,000 a week for life. I said to myself “Now that would make my life a tad bit better, so what the heck,” clicked, and started a long and winding journey. While it ended with the agony of defeat, along the way I was exposed to some of the cleverest marketing tactics I’d seen in a long time, and they reminded me of the power of personalization—and greed.
From the minute I registered for the giveaway, I received a steady stream of emails. Each one asked me to “click” or “accept” or “approve” some data point in some compelling way (ongoing engagement!)—and since I didn’t have time to read all the fine print, I definitely got the feeling that if I didn’t at least “do” something, that perhaps my chances of winning were in jeopardy. So, I was hooked. I opened each email and was led, like a horse to water, to drink from the fountain of hope.
“Verify your address so the Prize Patrol can find you!” one email proclaimed. Well gee, of course I want to make sure the Prize Patrol (PP) goes to MY house and not my crabby neighbor across the street! So I reviewed the data and clicked my approval.
“Confirm the location of your closest florist” another one requested (to make sure the PP could pick up my roses and ensure they were fresh when handed to me on camera). Shucks, the roses are all part of the big on-camera finale, so you bet I double checked the florist information and clicked my approval.
“Make sure we have the fastest route to your house!,” as the map from the florist to my front door was prominently displayed in the email. I actually took the time to carefully review the map and confirm that the route they had selected wasn’t circuitous, and again clicked my approval.
Alas, the final email gave me the disappointing news that I had not, in fact, won anything. But wait, there’s more!
Only a few days after discovering I hadn’t won a penny, I get an email that I was awarded the Badge of Honor and I was, in fact, entitled to a maximum number of 10 entries for $5,000 a week for life. And so the motivation continues …
All cleverness aside, my only criticism is that Publisher’s Clearing House sent too many emails, and after a while I became more confident in my ability to ignore them without risk. If you know anything about this promotion, you know its point is to sell you a magazine … or some other item (most are for just “3 easy payments of $X.XX!”).
Did I make a purchase? I must admit I finally broke down and did buy something, but when I win my $5,000 a week, I’ll be able to buy a lot more … And isn’t that the whole point?