“Generously proportioned” at best

We got a promotional flyer in the mail from yet another car dealership, which looked kind of like a free raffle for cool prizes. And right at the top it said that it was “Cars for the Cure to support the American Cancer Society.”

It’s a nice looking piece, tri-fold, card stock, four color printing.  On the back is a plastic “combination box” and a peel-away sticker. The combination box looks like it has an LED readout, and a little tab you can pull to turn it on.

The idea here is that you turn on the combination box, then peel the sticker off of the flyer.  There’s a number printed under the sticker, and if the combination box lights up with that same number, you have won one of the seven awesome prizes.

The first prize is his-and-hers 2014 Mustangs or $100, 000.  The prizes go from there through a whack of cash, TVs, iPods and things like that.  What’s important is third prize.  Third prize is an Amazon coupon worth $2-5000. To be clear, third prize is a coupon, and that coupon can worth some amount between two dollars and five thousand dollars.

Here’s where the nerd kicks in.  Do a bit of reading of the finer printing, and spend 30 seconds with a pen knife, and you find the following:

– In the contest rules (which are, refreshingly, quite clearly printed on the flyer), the odds of winning each prize are listed.  It says “Odds of winning a $2 Amazon® Card are 1:1 should no other prize be won.”  This means that ANYONE who gets one of these fliers will at least get a $2 gift card.  It’s like a boxing match, in that everyone can win third prize.

– There are a few things you have to do online, including choose which prize you want to play for, before you win anything.

– Here’s what the combination box looks like if you take it apart.

Book shelves should have books on them
Yeah, I need a pedicure as well.

That thing on my pinky is a sticker.  If you light it from behind, it kind of looks like an LED segment display is making those numbers.  But in reality, the combination box is just a single white LED, a piece of clear plastic to diffuse the light, two button batteries and a sticker.  It’s supposed to LOOK like it’s picking a number that’s exclusive to you, but it’s not.

Guess what?  The number in my combination box is the same as the number in my flyer!  I am teh w1n!  I do have the sneaking suspicion that a lot of people will have the same numbers, but hey–when you get right down to it, we are ALL winners.  Makes you feel good, dunnit?

Does this color make my thumb look fat?
I am teh w1n!

So what is going on here?

Basically, this car dealership is spending somewhere between $3 and $5 per piece to drop these flyers in an attempt to get people to come into their building and claim a prize.  An additional $2 will go to everyone who goes through the hoops to claim their prize, but in order to do so, every winner is going to have to start a conversation with a salesperson.  If this is as smart a campaign as it appears, those salespeople will have a script or some other way of getting the winners to look at cars.

So that’s about $7 (at most) per warm lead who walks in the door.  Not too bad, if it works.  I’d assume that they targeted who was getting these things a bit.  Ours was addressed to the people who used to own our house “or current resident.”

See, you can’t just say to the world “I will give you $7 if you come to my dealership and let me try to sell you a car.” Most of the people who would say “yes” to that deal are NOT THE TARGET MARKET.  If you need $7 that bad, you are not going to buy a car.

So instead, you choose a large group of people who are able to buy cars, and you spend $7 apiece to tell them “You live somewhere that people who can afford cars live, and you’ve won a prize, it might be a pair of awful cars or $100,000.  Come talk to me about it.  Also, it’s a benefit for the American Cancer Society.”

It’s not technically dishonest.  You get as close as you can to saying one thing and meaning another, but mostly, you depend on people not reading to closely, and thinking that you’re giving things away.

This campaign is done through Fatwin, though this kind of thing is hardly unique.  I’ve included their name here simply so that this might show up in search engines in case anyone else is as randomly curious as I was.

On the upside, I got an LED in a diffuser and two little batteries.

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