How excited was I to win a prize on a sewing challenge? Err… I may have conducted a very energetic happy dance. But those Carlton-esque arm swings soon gave way to some disappointed Uncle Phil head shaking. The sponsors did not contact me for a loooooong time and I was left assuming the worst about the whole competition. I’ve been left to get the prize on my own, and no one is responding! Maybe the problem was me and my expectations. I am just not sure how this whole internet sewing challenge things works. Dear Gabby — help me!
Sincerely, Ghosted in Seattle
There are tons of shady people on the interwebs, and Instagram is no exception. It’s very disappointing for people to run contests or challenges, promise prizes, and not deliver. After all, they’re running on the backs of your images, your followers, your engagement to get attention, followers, and engagement in return. Ugh!
In theory, anyone who is running a contest or challenge will have chatted with their sponsors and have all their prizes lined up ahead of time, so once a winner is announced, goodies are en route (be it physical items, or web codes to redeem!) It shouldn’t be your job to have to chase sponsors for a contest you already did the work for. That tells me that there’s a good chance the sponsors weren’t aware of their participation in the contest, or that someone involved dropped the ball in a big way. Now, I personally don’t participate in Instagram-call-to-actions very often, simply due to time constraints, but the sense of community and fun they build is undeniable. So for someone to violate that trust is especially terrible. It’s a small world, my fellow Sewcialists, and on this, Emily Post and I agree: treat others as you would like to be treated!
That said, since you already posted your photos, used their hashtags, sewed your items, and were presumably announced the winner on their socials, I don’t see why you can’t publicly post something, using their hashtags and tagging them, and ask what happened. A contest isn’t a guarantee that you’ll always be rewarded for your participation, but it’s a pretty crappy thing to be promised a reward for your work, after winning the contest, and then not receive it. I definitely think others should be aware — the people who hosted the contest should have to answer, and either stop hosting challenges if they can’t run them properly, or reform their evil ways!
How about you, dear reader? What has your experience been? Best contest/challenge experience? Worst?
A note: Sometimes in my role as the Sewcialist’s advice columnist, I get questions that aren’t about fit and technique. Since they’re important questions, I want to make room in my column for some of these other issues — and I welcome input from the community about how you’d handle these tricky situations yourself!
How to submit:
Send an explanation of your problem with a short video or set of photos, and your contact information. This can be purely for fit advice, sewing and technique questions, or really, any kind of sewing etiquette! Your submission will be edited into a blog post, so please note that by sending an email, you are granting permission for your video/photos and sewing problem to be shared online. You are helping the community see all-bodied individuals! There is no shame or judgment — the end goal is to help you *make* clothing that feels great and that helps you *feel* the same way while wearing it.
See more here.
Gabby is a technical fashion designer, fit specialist, and prolific googler. She lives in Denver, raises tiny littles, reads, embroiders, makes, experiments, fails, learns, tries again. See her on instagram @ladygrift.
I won a giveaway once with about 8 prizes from multiple sponsors and had to chase down all but one. I can’t say that left a good taste in my mouth for those sponsors or the person managing the giveaway. On a separate occasion, I had given up that a sponsor was going to get me my prize despite reaching out to them directly several times and the help of the contest manager. It turns out they were out of town for some time but they made it right by offering their apologies and adding in something extra to the prize. It taught me to manage things better on the rare occasion that I am in the same role.
Wow! That sounds so frustrating. Did it deter you from participating in other events?
I feel like sometimes the organizers of giveaways are just not all that good at organizing. Instagram giveaways are having a big ~moment~ so I feel like lots of people and brands are hoping on the train in hopes of gaining followers, engagement, etc. without being authentic
That’s an excellent point. And it can be hard to tell who’s for real, and who isn’t.
A long time ago now I won a contest that had multiple prizes. I had to chase down 3 of them myself, one had no idea they were offering a prize (1 year subscription to their magazine), another thought they were offering a discount, when I was told it was a free pattern, and then there was another magazine subscription which just never ever happened. I tried getting info from the organiser, but go no-where. In the end I gave up. I’d take it up with the organiser, but don’t hold out too much!
Oof. That sounds rough! Bad organization at its finest 🙁
I’m so disappointed that this sort of thing seems to happen repeatedly! I won a free Colette pattern once and they were a dream to deal with – emailed me back right away, and sent the pattern I picked. It honestly never occured to me that wouldn’t be the norm! On the flip side, I do know that organizing prizes takes a lot of work, which is part of why we don’t ever do prizes here on Sewcialists. (Also because we’re not about winners or losers here – participation prizes for all! 😉
To be fair, I’ve organized prizes for multi-billion dollar company spiff programs. Spiff programs are contests companies use to incentivize sales people. For example, sell 100 of the new multi-function printer (MFP) released this quarter, I’ll send you a brand new Thule battery charger. Sell 1000 MFPs or more, I’ll put you in a drawing for a 3 day weekend at Wolf Lodge Resort. These are actual campaigns I’ve run. Having been in Marketing all of my professional life, spiff programs, event planning, multi-channel promotions, yearly/quarterly/monthly budgets & campaigns, and ROI (return on investment) on those marketing costs are part of my DNA. So, on one hand, I don’t hold amateurs to the same level as I hold myself, but on the other hand, there are some best practices that should be known before one goes into event or promotional planning.
The due diligence on best practices required for event or promotional planning is the responsibility of the event promoters. Full Stop.
Some of those best practices include getting prizes lined up from the Sponsors before running promotions. Have this all in writing, with expectations clearly spelled out, is the responsibility of the event promoter. This dialog needs to happen between the event Promotor and the Sponsor, NOT the prize winner. The onus is NOT on the prize winner to negotiate their prize. They are not in the contract between the Sponsor and the Promoter. The Promoter has real or implied marketing responsibilities to the Sponsor. The Prize Winner’s responsibility of real or implied contract is already fulfilled upon winning the prize. The prize winner has no further responsibility. There is no reason a Prize Winner should have the responsibility of direct contact with the Sponsor, or vice versa. Making the Sponsor have direct contact with the Prize Winner is implying a contract between the Sponsor and the Prize Winner. Let me think of how many Sponsors want that responsibility …Ummmm, NONE.
Not only does the poor form above make for bad marketing for the Sponsors and Promoters, it ruins relationships for future event planners. Now, when I or another event planner approaches one of the companies who had a snafu with this event, we very well may get turned down because of the bad blood created. These small-medium businesses (SMB) don’t have capital or resources to take this kind of hit, and will avoid doing so in the future to stop any further hemorrhaging of capital or resources.
I have zero issue with being fully transparent with my sponsors. I’ve gone so far as sending out my actual budget spreadsheet with my cost forecasts. When a sponsor asks what their ROI is on sponsoring my event, I give them options, but I never over-promise. In fact, I’m known for sand-bagging. That said, everything falls on me. I am responsible, not my attendees, not my prize winners, and not my sponsors. Just me.
Dear event planners: this is on YOU. If you can’t handle that kind of heat, get out of my kitchen.
Boom! Becky, you are why Portland Frocktails is so awesome!!
omgosh! thank you! lol. I haz opinionz. 😀
As an amateur who organises the occasional sewing challenge /hashtag with giveaway on Instagram, I prefer where possible to give the items (e.g. a book) where I’m in control – i.e. I hold the copy of the book and post it out myself. With pdf patterns, I have an email dialogue with sponsors and thus their email confirmation that they are happy to sponsor. Every one of them has always preferred that the winner contact them directly so they have a choice of pattern (sponsor isn’t going to email me all their files for the purposes of letting the winner choose one and me send it out). So in this case – once we have a winner I send a message to both the winner and the sponsor in a group message on IG and let them sort it out between themselves, then step out of it. I don’t recall having a complaint to date of something not working out.
But in general I’m reassessing – I did an IG poll on stories the other day for my upcoming hashtag #sewyourbooks and 17% of people said that a giveaway affected their interest in participating. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but new connections and a bit of fun is enough for me.
I get a coupon code for pattern give-aways. it’s super easy on the store back-end to set up a 1-time use code with an expiration date. Again, my opinion, but the onus is entirely on the organizer to ask for such a code. Marketing is a service job. The promotor is selling a service to the sponsor. While that may not be in exchange for money, it is an exchange nonetheless. Making a “winner” do the work is against my professional ethics.
Thank you – I will ask for a coupon code next time, that’s really helpful Becky
[…] Here’s the blog post on what to do if you’re ghosted after winning an Instagram challenge. […]
There truly is no escaping ghosting 😫