Meet the Promoters: Cloud Nine Incentives
It’s been a while since I published my last Meet the Promoters Q&A so I decided it was about time I brought you some gossip from the ‘other side’ of comping – via interviews with the people and agencies who run the prize promotions that we love so much!
Founded in 2011, Cloud Nine are an independent, creative and energetic incentives agency, with a passion for creating distinctive, memorable and awe-inspiring prizes and promotions. Some of the brands they’ve worked with are Cadbury, Disney and Coca-Cola, and one of their current promotions is on Asahi SuperDry, where you can scan a QR code inside the beer packaging to win prizes instantly!
I spoke to Cloud Nine’s Sophie Chambers about competitions, prizes, the IPM, and of course, Covid-19.
Tell me about some of the most exciting travel experiences that Cloud Nine have organised for clients!
Aside from fun and exciting prizes such as Film Premieres and Champions League Finals, a really exciting prize that we were involved in was a meet and greet with Lionel Messi in Barcelona with Walkers. As you can imagine, there was a high level of security surrounding this prize and the actual location and timing of the meet and greet were only disclosed to us at the last minute on the day. The winners all had a fabulous time and we can confirm that Messi was a thoroughly nice man! Again with Walkers, we have also arranged a meet and greet with Mariah Carey in fabulous Las Vegas – again there was a high level of security around locations and timings, but it was hugely exciting for the super fans of Mariah who got to meet the singing sensation in person as well as enjoying the fun of Sin City.
In 2019 I surveyed SuperLucky readers on behalf of Cloud Nine about what made their holiday wins so special – what kind of ‘extras’ do Cloud Nine try to source for their prizes?
Cloud Nine strive to ensure that their winners have the best trip possible and this is primarily due to our very precise attention to detail. Everyone at Cloud Nine is hugely experienced in the world of prize winners and we are constantly reviewing processes and looking at ways we can improve the level of service we offer.
How has Covid-19 affected Cloud Nine this year?
Well, obviously we had a whole host of winners ready to travel over the spring and summer of this year which we have rearranged or put on hold until travel becomes a little more stable so we were actually kept very busy with that throughout much of lockdown. Currently, due to the uncertainty of travel we are providing lots of alternatives prizes such as gadgets, cash, home experiences as well as many UK breaks. Sometimes the beauty of what is on your doorstep gets forgotten so it has been fun rediscovering the hidden gems in our own lovely country.
With the travel industry suffering as a result of the pandemic, what type of alternative prizes would you recommend to replace ‘once in a lifetime’ luxury holidays and experiences?
There is no real alternative to the full on ‘once in a lifetime’ 5* holiday to a beautiful beach side hotel, however there is certainly a lot of scope to create amazing experiences closer to home. We ran a fabulous Christmas promotion a couple of years ago for Regina Blitz and also for Walkers, where the lucky winner won the ultimate Christmas experience. This included all presents being brought and wrapped, a house clean before and after the big day, a fantastic Christmas tree with all new decorations, a private chef to cook an amazing Christmas meal for the whole family, a new dinner service, a new television to watch all the Christmas specials and a whole host of essentials guaranteed to make it the most stress free Christmas! Prizes such as these that are thoughtful and well organised are a great alternative to the traditional luxury holidays which are presently unavailable to us.
Have there been any recent prize promotions that you’ve been particularly impressed by?
I really like the recent Premier League football activities that Coca Cola and Cadbury are running. They are great partnerships and the investment from both brands is clear to see, as it’s everywhere! The prizes may not be to everyone’s liking, but for the audience they are trying to attract they work brilliantly and there are lots and lots of opportunities to win.
Tell us about your new role at the IPM?
Cloud Nine have always been members of the IPM (Institute of Promotional Marketing) from when we were first established. It has always been important for us to be recognised as being members of a respected and established regulatory industry body. I have recently been appointed as Chair of the Incentive, Prize and Loyalty Community which is one of four Communitys within the IPM. Alongside fellow prize providers and loyalty rewards agencies we will be working together to create new opportunities during the current climate and essentially establishing firm roots within the industry.
What’s the most valuable prize you’ve given away – and what was the winner’s reaction when you contacted them?
I guess valuable is a subjective term. An amazing 12 month round the world trip we put together for Canon was probably the largest in terms of monetary value. But valuable from a winners point of view was being able to make so many winner’s dreams come true through the Cadbury’s Joynormous campaign where we arranged a surprise wedding, arranged shopping trips to New York and most memorably sending a unsuspecting winner to Australia to visit their far off family and friends. All the trips for this campaign were done in secret by a close friend or relative of the winner so it was really fantastic to see their genuinely delighted and emotional reactions to the trip arranged by their loved ones.
Do you ever have trouble getting in touch with winners?
More often than not, winners are first notified directly by the brand and are told to expect a follow up phone call from ourselves so our contact is not out of the blue. We have however had winners who we have tried to repeatedly contact via various different methods – email / phone or post and never get a response from and so their prize is then redrawn which is such a shame.
Do you enter any competitions yourself?
Well, because I am so interested in the world of on-pack promotions, I do tend to notice them a lot and will often enter one that we are not involved in (of course!). However, I have only ever won one travel prize which was a 2 night stay at Gleneagles with Highland Spring which was fabulous – a beautiful hotel and a very fascinating insight into being a winner rather than a prize provider! You can read about my experience here.
What would your own dream travel prize be?
We are quite often asked this question and I always find it a really difficult one to answer as I can never make up my mind! We have had winners in the past who have been given £20,000 to spend on travel and I can never decide if it would be better to have 3 or 4 experiences for that money like a New York weekend break, a week’s family holiday in Spain, a weeks campervan trip in the UK and a weekend in Reykjavik or should it be the perfect opportunity to have a full on luxury trip to somewhere like the Maldives with Business Class flights, sea plane transfers and have 2 or 3 weeks in 5* luxury. However, my personal dream travel prize currently would be a holiday to South Africa for a few days in Cape Town followed by a week’s safari in Botswana followed by a week in the Maldives. Either that or a trip on the Orient Express from Singapore to Bangkok – I had better start entering competitions!
One of the big promotions you were involved in this summer was the Co-op and Nisa Britvic text promotion, where the lucky winners received their cash prizes almost instantly! How did you manage to do this?
The client wanted to reward consumers as quickly as possible with cash prizes throughout the summer, so we teamed up with Pingit. It’s a mobile to mobile payment app which allows the user to simply receive a code to the value of the prize amount and credit their bank account. The technology is relatively new but works well on registered smart phones.
Have there been any problems with people cheating in your promotions, and how have you dealt with it?
Typically, where our role starts any ‘cheating’ or dishonesty has been uncovered. If something does appear suspect, we always refer this back to the brand’s legal team to ensure whatever course of action is taken, is fair.
SuperLucky readers have raved about their prizewinner communications with Cloud Nine, especially for the Pringles Take a Bite, Win a Flight promotion. What’s the best feedback you’ve had from a competition winner?
This is so lovely to hear and we are incredibly lucky to have an amazing and dedicated team who work really hard to make sure that our winners experience top notch customer service. This is not only because these lucky winners deserve to have an amazing prize experience, but also because we know that our role is an extension of the brand experience and it is important to maintain the positive consumer / brand relationship.
It always great to receive good feedback as it’s one way of measuring what we do. But some of the best feedback we have had is where a prize has positively impacted someone’s life. For example flying a winner off to Australia to see a family member they’ve not seen for decades, or making sure we really maximise someone’s prize when they’ve experienced a particularly bad period in their lives.
What can we expect from the next 6 months in terms of prize promotions, keeping in mind the ongoing lockdown restrictions?
Well, I think over the next six months we are going to see lots of imaginative and fun campaigns coming up where the brands and agencies involved are having to come up with new and innovative ideas to combat the current Covid climate. I will also be expecting to see a move towards campaigns that have more of a focus on health and wellbeing with the prizes more centred on these areas. Far flung parts of the world will still be there waiting for us next year when I am confident that travel will start to filter back into the world of prize promotions.
And finally, what’s the best part of your job?
I love the diversity of my job. I love the fact that one day I could be researching 5* luxury hotels in the Bahamas and the next day organising the different elements of the Ultimate Christmas at Home Prize. A favourite part is obviously speaking to the winners and hearing how excited they are to have won a prize and being part of making that prize happen. There is also the added bonus of complimentary trips to hotels and countries which we are sometimes offered in the name of research. One of the best being an amazing trip to India. Visiting the Taj Mahal is definitely up there with one of the most fabulous places I have been to.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Sophie! If you’re a brand and would like to work with Cloud Nine get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.