Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Con tests

Many years ago, I used to watch out for contests in the newspapers. And I was a regular participant. Armed with envelopes, stamps I was ready to pounce on any contest that was worth contesting. Especially the ones that came during any big event. I remember quiz contests during the 1992 Olympics, the 86 and the 90 football world cup and some of the cricket events which saw a rash of contests that promised winners prizes ranging from a golden ball to tickets to wherever. Then there were the slogan contests most of which started with "I like/watch/wear because . Obviously I won nothing. I did win a smallish carton of mints that lasted six months and created a permanent dislike of anything minty on my tastebuds, including toothpaste.

As life progressed, I realized that these contests would not guarantee any income, much less permanent income and gave up hopes of winning a diamond studded Ferrari and concentrated on things where the returns were more stable - like a job for instance.

As the internet age dawned upon us, there were sites which made the whole premise of winning in contests their USP. Now, you can SMS and win a whole house, technically, I mean.

Then, very recently, a thought came across my mind. (Coincidentally along with the IPO and free photo scam.) Most of these quizzes and slogan contests have such low barriers of entry, especially the ones on MTV, most of which start with the logical equivalent of the question, "Your name is". And then give you three choices out of which two are outrageously stupid. The idea of the contest (and I am sorry if this is an already documented fact known to everybody but me, like those proverbial neighbourhood love stories where only the parents dont know) only seems to be to collect email addresses and postal addresses for some future marketing event or for some profiling. As more and more contests are outsourced, that seems to be the case. Most contests are just that, con tests?

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