Last week I came across what sounded like a neat little Twitter contest that Mercedes Benz was running. As a Mercedes owner I took an interest when I saw that they were looking for people who were willing to drive a Mercedes across the country while tweeting for a chance to win a new car plus a couple of tickets to the super bowl.
So, I tossed my name in the hat because it sounded like fun. Lo and behold, I was accepted into what Mercedes referred to as “the Second Round”, in which I was asked to submit an application. At first I was a little excited, though I figured there are probably a million people in the “Second Round” anyway…
THEN I read the actual “application”. And wow, I couldn’t believe what all they were asking for!
What the Contest Promises
Four two-person teams will embark on Feb. 2, 2011, from one of four cities – New York, L.A., Chicago or Tampa – with a pair of Super Bowl tickets and specially outfitted Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
They’ll need to beat out three other teams headed to Dallas. They’ll need to complete a series of challenges along the way. And they’ll need gallons of Tweets from their Twitter followers to fuel them to victory.
If you were “lucky” enough to be chosen for the second round of the contest then you received a Twitter DM (direct message) instructing you to email the contest administrator for your application packet – which I did.
What NOT To Do When Running a Contest
In response, an email arrived with an 8.3MB attached 11 page application. Yes, eleven pages. (BTW, posting this disqualifies me from the contest, but as you’ll see in a minute, it doesn’t matter). A couple of notes for anyone considering running a Twitter contest:
- A lot of people’s email accounts might not accept a 8MB attachment. And even if they do, what if they are traveling or something (which I was)? Why not upload it somewhere and give us a link. Huge surprise attachments are just plain rude, and have been since like 1999.
- You might not want to give people an 11 page application to start with for a freaking contest.
- I received it on December 25, and they required a complete response by December 29. Even taking out the fact that we are talking about the holiday season, the application not only requires written response, but it also requires a photograph with your driving partner as well as a 2 minute video with your partner. I guess they didn’t consider the fact that people might not be in town!
- MUCH more importantly, this process requires that every applicant submit to an unbelievably invasive background search. I mean that I literally could not believe the nerve of what they were asking for.
The Unbelievable Release
AUTHORIZATION AND RELEASE (driver)
Please print, sign, scan and send completed version to RaceDirectory@MBTweetRace.com
Permission to obtain driver records, employment and education verifications, search for criminal records, litigation, liens, judgments, credit reports, bankruptcy records and all other records reflecting character.
I, ___________________ hereby authorize IPS Associates, LLC to conduct an investigation and/or obtain investgative reports, driver history records, criminal convictions records, credit reports, education, prior employment, character, general reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living.
I hereby authorize IPS Associates, LLC to conduct an education search to verify any enrollment and/or degrees which I have obtained as well as to verify all academics and/or licensses which may be listed below.
I, hereby authorize IPS Associates, LLC to conduct an employment search to verify employment which I have listed below.
I further understand than an investigative consumer report may contain information about my character, general reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living, which information may be obtained through personal interviews with my friends, neighbors and/or other associates.
I further understand that any information obtained by IPS Associates, LLC will not be used in violation of any federal or state discrimination law or regulation.
I hereby and herewith release IPS Associates, LLC, its employees, agents and contractors from any and all liability whatsoever arising from the investigation, report or any decisions made by any person or entity based upon the results of the investgation or report.
Print Name / Sign / etc.
GOOD LORD! They want you to give them your social security number, drivers license, and the right to delve into employment, credit, “…character, general reputation, personal characteristics and mode of living…” and whatever else they like? Oh, and you are going to completely absolve them “…from any and all liability whatsoever….”
So It’s Like a Job and Going to Pay Off, Right?
When I hear all of that I think, this thing better really, really pay off right! NO! According to the competition Terms here is what you get:
Contestants must be available beginning at 9 am on February 1, 2011 through February 9, 2011.
Compensation will not be provided to Contest Teams, including but not limited to, reimbursement for lost wages or business losses. Teams will be provided a daily stipend for food, lodging and gasoline. Travel from the Contestant’s home to the Teams designated race beginning point and from Dallas back to their home will be provided via coach class airline commercial carrier. Contestants must agree to abide by any social media and site rules established by TwitterÂ®, Facebook and Sponsor.
Contestants must agree to abide by all traffic and parking rules and laws. Contestants will be liable for all parking tickets, moving violations or other fines levied in connection with driving the vehicle.
Contestants shall be required to sign a Liability Waiver and Release form to operate the vehicle, and Publicity Release consent to the use of their name, likeness and any and all copyright or other intellectual property rights without compensation, in any advertising and promotional activities, worldwide, in perpetuity.
Lets Examine the Prizes
Both the Winning Driver and the Winning Co-Driver of the winning Contest Team will receive a 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe, base model, with winner’s choice of paint color (Prize Vehicles).
Oh, there is one little catch:
Winners of Prize Vehicles acknowledge and accept that the Prize Vehicles will not be available to the winners until model retail launch in October 2011.
Well, and another much bigger catch:
…all federal, state and local taxes associated with the acceptance of any and all prizes connected with this Contest are the sole responsibility of the winner.
To Sum It All Up
So, to wrap it all up for you,
- They ran a “contest” that needs lots of participation, and which is dependant on the social media sphere.
- God only knows how many people’s lives they are going to investigate like crazy to narrow the field to 4 teams.
- 3 out of 4 final teams are going to have to give up a week to compete and get NOTHING!
- You have to accept ALL liability while you are competing for free in their contest!
- They can decide to change the contest prize on you at any time – so you might not even win the car they are holding the contest for!
- If you do win, you aren’t going to get the prize for nearly a year.
- You are signing over your name, likeness, etc. FOREVER for them to use in any way they want GLOBALLY (even if you don’t win and get NOTHING for participating).
- And if you win you’re going to be responsible for paying for taxes on the value of the vehicle as if it was income. So hope you have many $thousands of cash laying around to take care of Uncle Sam.
All of this just puts a really, really bad taste in my mouth for Mercedes Benz. Which of course is the complete opposite of what I suspect they were looking for. Sooo… I have just one question for Mercedes:
Who the hell did you hire to run this contest, and what were you thinking???