My top ten prizes
One of the questions I’m always asked in interviews is ‘What’s the best prize you’ve won?’ – and I realised that although I have a list of my prizes, I’ve never actually written about my favourites here on the blog. So here you go – a list of Di’s top ten prizes, as refreshed for 2022!
1. VW Beetle
Back in 2002 I was a newbie to slogan comps, but loved a challenge. My mum had spotted an advert in Ideal Home magazine to win a VW Beetle: my dream car! But entry wasn’t easy; you had to buy a Zanussi washing machine and post off a copy of the receipt along with an entry form printed from their website, complete with a tiebreaker slogan. I pondered for a while and decided I couldn’t justify buying a new washer when my old one worked just fine. But then, a week before the competition closing date, my washer broke down. I hotfooted it to Currys and got a new one on interest free credit: I figured by the time I had to start paying for it, I would have sold my Fiesta and have a shiny new Beetle on my driveway. You know me – it’s all about positive thinking! The lead in for the slogan was:” I wash my clothes in a Zanussi because…”. My response was “from Winter woollies to skimpy underwear, Zanussi technology is programmed to care”. I always had a good feeling about this competition and even when the closing date and notification date had passed I still felt confident. Each night I dreamt of driving my prize Beetle and eventually on 10th January 2003 I got the winning telephone call to say I’d won!
2. £15,000 cash & £10,000 in Brewdog shares
My biggest cash prize was won in 2021 in a purchase-necessary prize draw at Tesco – although originally, the prize was a ‘solid gold’ beer can valued at £15,000 by Brewdog! However, when one of the winners had the can valued, it turned out it was gold-plated and worth a measly £500. After many complaints to the ASA, and my frustrated blog post, Brewdog finally offered each of the 28 gold can winners £15,000 cash for their prize cans. Not long afterwards, I received the other half of my prize – a certificate for £10,000 shares in Brewdog! It goes to show, if you don’t believe the prize you received was what was advertised, it can certainly pay to make a complaint…
3. ‘Lord of the Rings’ trip to New Zealand
This was a huge prize. To celebrate the cinema release of ‘Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’, Ottakars book shops launched a unique competition on their website. Every Friday for 4 weeks at noon a set of 3 literary riddles were published online; you had to note down the first letter of the answers. After publication of the final riddle, you had to work out the puzzle and phone your answer through to an answering machine. The first person to leave a message with the correct solution won the prize. With help from my boss at work we unscrambled the 12 letters to make BILBOS SWORD; we had deduced that one of the letters was a red herring! I phoned through the answer ‘Sting’, the name of his sword. This was about 30 minutes after the lines opened and I didn’t think I was in with a chance. But a few days later I had a call from Ottakars Head Office: I was indeed the first to get the exact answer. He told me most people had left the answer ‘Bilbo’s sword’ or even simply ‘Lord of the Rings!’. The holiday itself was amazing: a 3 week schedule taking in both North and South Islands, visiting film locations, with helicopter and biplane flights, wine tasting, hot springs and bungee jumping. And of course, there was the £1000 spending money, although I did give £500 of that to my boss Fraser who helped me solve the clues!
4. Signed Damien Hirst print
This unusual prize was won in a simple online entry web prize draw on the Observer website. The top prize was the original Damien Hirst skull painting, worth £250,000 – but I won the runners up prize of a signed print. It’s a real talking point for visitors and because I see it every day, it’s a great reminder of my brilliant hobby!
5. Family holiday to Florida
Many compers will fondly remember the ‘Faces for Florida’ competition which ran for four years on Heart FM. I was one of the winners in 2016, when you had to print off a face mask of Jamie Theakston and Emma Bunton and then take a fun photo featuring the masks. I convinced Rob and Ryland to join me on Brighton beach on a snowy January morning for a photo shoot, and was super excited to get the winning phone call! My favourite holiday wins have definitely been where I’ve had to think creatively and do something a little bit out of the ordinary – or extreme comping as I like to call it! Read about our trip to Florida here.
6. Luxury weekend in Milan
This was a real once-in-a-lifetime experience – a chance for my husband to play in a football tournament with Arsenal legends Robert Pires and Tony Adams at the San Siro stadium in Milan. This was a photo and caption competition on Indesit’s Facebook page with more than 30 winners from all over Europe, but unbelievably less than 400 entries! We stayed in a luxurious hotel in Milan, and while the men went to football training, the WAGs were treated to a £400 pair of shoes each, a makeover and cocktails. On the day of the tournament I also won the fun ‘best supporter’ competition and was rewarded with a signed Arsenal shirt which now hangs proudly in Ryland’s bedroom! Read about our trip to Milan here.
7. Ten day trip to Japan
Japan is on the wish lists of many compers, and back in 2002 I was lucky enough to win two trips there! It’s a particularly appealing destination for me because my best friend Jo emigrated there in the 1990s, so I’m always looking out for opportunities to go and visit. Both the Japan holidays were won from magazine prize draws, and I spent time crafting home-made Japanese themed postcards to enter. This prize, from Good Food magazine, included a week’s accommodation at the incredibly swish Four Seasons Tokyo followed by a 3 night stay in Kyoto, and various day trips too. We even had a business class upgrade on the plane. It was simply amazing and a real taste of the high life!
8. FA Cup Final Mascot package
It’s not strictly my win of course, but I helped my son Ryland to make a video entry for an Emirates competition when he was 7 years old, and he won a place as a mascot for Arsenal at the FA Cup Final. This was an incredibly emotional experience – we dropped Ry off at Wembley and didn’t see him again until he walked out onto the pitch with Per Mertesacker (his favourite player at the time!). Arsenal were expected to lose to Chelsea, but Mertesacker scored the winning goal and it was a dream come true for Ry. As part of the prize we had a night in a hotel and bumped into Sol Campbell getting late night snacks in KFC – the icing on the cake! Read about Ry’s day as a mascot here
9. Trip to the Brazilian Grand Prix
I spotted this competition on a bottle of Fernox F1 that my plumber had brought into the house; we were having drains fixed and a new boiler installed so we had plumbers at our house for weeks on end. To enter, you had to post off a Fernox cap with a slogan: I wrote “for Central heating in tip top condition, Fernox is always in pole position!”. There were 3 winners of a trip to the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. When I saw this competition I knew I would win it; we’d only just booked flights to Argentina for our honeymoon and when I checked the dates of the Grand Prix, it was right at the end of our trip so I knew if we won we could add it to the end of our holiday. My husband took the winning telephone call and couldn’t believe it – Fernox even gave us £1400 cash as we’d already paid for our flights! Although the competition itself was open to everyone, the other two winners were plumbers and it was so funny listening to them and the Fernox reps talking plumbing. Although Lewis Hamilton let us down on the day, being at a Grand Prix was a wonderful and thrilling end to our honeymoon!
10. A Butler for Glastonbury Festival
This extraordinary prize is the one people always want to hear about! This was a postcard entry competition in Q Magazine back in 2003, and the prize was a limo trip to Glastonbury, where my then-boyfriend Joey and I were greeted in the VIP area by our butler Wallace (who had even worked for the Royal Family!) and given backstage passes. Wallace looked after us all weekend, bringing us food, drinks and anything we wanted, and I even got to go up in the helicopter which takes the aerial shots of the festival site. This was a hilarious experience and when I talk about it, I’m reminded of why comping is such a magnificent hobby. Who else can say that they sat on their butler’s shoulders to watch the Flaming Lips play the Pyramid Stage?
Finally, I must give a special mention to the incredible Jet2 Party Plane prize – this was won by Kirsty in my Lucky Learners Facebook group back in 2019, and a hundred of us travelled to Majorca with Rylan for the best party weekend ever! Read all about it here.
I hope this post has been inspiring for you. I’ve been comping seriously (although I never feel ‘seriously’ is the right word!) for 25 years now, so I do have lots of amazing prizes to choose from, and you can see from my monthly prize unboxing videos on YouTube, the small ones can be just as delightful as the biggies! These ten favourite prizes have been won across radio, phone, online, postcard, slogan, photography and video competitions. I like to give everything a go, and if you’re struggling to win competitions, maybe you could try something different too?
What’s your best prize so far?
I’d love to hear about YOUR best wins too. They don’t need to be biggies – and if you’re new to comping it’s fine to tell me about a small win too. Leave a comment below to let me know!