Thursday, September 17, 2015

Can competitions be extended after the deadline has expired?

This question has me wondering all day: Is it okay for any sort of competition to extend the deadline, and impose new rules, after the original deadline has expired? Also to remove gifts that were originally offered before the first deadline? Perhaps someone had already won by the original dates and rules. Is it fair to them? Is it ethical? Is it professional? Is it even legal?

So here is the story. The Italian Chamber of Commerce of Hong Kong and Macao (ICC) puts out this little competition:

Basically it says that by the 14th of September (last line) the person with the most likes on Instagram with a certain set of hash-tags, would win a Furla bag. The others would get tickets to the event.

Their marketing campaign for this little stunt was so great that they got a grand total of one entrant. This young girl borrowed her mum's Furla bag, took a photo and posted it to Instagram with all the necessary tags, quotes and all other required nonsense.

And then she noticed that no one else was entering. So she started getting excited! Perhaps, just perhaps, there was a possibility that she would win this bag! And the 14th came, and the 14th went, and she was the only entrant! She was thrilled to bits because she had to have won the bag. By default, perhaps, but she still had won, right?


On the 15th, the day after the competition had ended, she received this communication from the ICC, via email and Facebook:

Note the date on the top - at 3.30 pm of the 15th September - this meant they deliberated all morning. Not only was the deadline extended after it had expired, the gifts for the next ten runner's up were removed! When she contacted ICC to ask about why they were doing this, she was rebuffed with a callousness that is perhaps reserved for common folk.

Soon after, there was a second entrant. And then the new entrant started getting likes. Goodness! You should have seen how quickly they rolled in! And in less than 2 days, from the 15th to the 17th, she had five times more 'likes' than the poor young original entrant could garner in a week.

And today, of course the bag was awarded to the preferred entrant. And there she was, at the Furla IFC store cocktail party, chatting away with everyone, gaggle of women behind her helping her to build her own bag, because she is very well known!

I am sorry that the young girl had to learn in this way that the world can be a horrid place, full of favouritism and nepotism. But lessons in life are hard, and must be learned. They must be taken into ones stride, as I am sure the young girl will because she is a sensible, smart and intelligent young lady who I am proud to call my daughter.

But there is another lesson to be taken away from this incident. Should we simply accept whatever is doled our way just because we are neither rich nor famous? Is it a given that we condone this sort of behaviour, especially an institution which is supposedly governed by written rules; rather different from the individual, who has only his conscience to follow.

If this sort of unprofessional and unethical manoeuvring is carried out by an established quasi-Governmental entity, and accepted by a global firm like Furla (who have yet to respond to my tweet), how much more shocking behaviour can we expect from the little ones, who are not so much in the public eye? Or is it that the bigger the entity, the more they feel unconstrained by ethics and laws?

Are we really losing our capacity to separate right from wrong to this degree? I look at the news every day, and sadly, I think this is so. A small wrong here, a bigger one there, and some really terrible deeds elsewhere - and we absorb it all, perhaps express shock and incredulity, momentarily, but then we forget, with a shrug of our shoulders.