Andrew Rae, Head of Promotions at The Black Tomato Agency and an expert in all things relating to prizes and promotions, answers the latest topical questions from industry insiders.

Q&A with Andrew Rae


Andrew Rae, Head of Promotions at The Black Tomato Agency and an expert in all things relating to prizes and promotions, answers the latest topical questions from industry insiders.

How can I create a Valentine’s promotion while avoiding clichéd prizes?

Valentine’s Day can be a minefield of trips to Paris and couples’ massages at your local hotel. It can also offer a real opportunity for you and your brand to create some genuinely eye-catching promotions which help your campaign stand out as truly unique amongst its heart-shaped cushion and chocolate equivalents.

Why not try adding a twist to the established tropes of romance?

“Show your partner how much you care – submerge them in a cage in the South Atlantic Sea and invite a Great White Shark to join your Valentine’s Day” or “Test your love for each other as you spend Valentines Night in the Skylodge Adventure Suite, a glass hotel secured to the side of a cliff in the Sacred Valley of Cuzco”.

Alternatively, if you are going romantic, be a bit more creative and give Paris a break from the lovers. How about a chef’s table at one of San Sebastian’s many Michelin starred restaurants, or a night under the stars in a Glass Igloo in Finland?

Let’s reclaim Valentine’s Day as an opportunity for unique campaigns and put the personalised singing teddy bear back in the drawer.

We want to go ultra-romantic for our Valentine’s Day promotion. What could you suggest for a true Money Can’t Buy Experience?

On a professional level, I do take umbrage with the term “money can’t buy” – but I understand it sums up best what promotions need to represent in this day and age.

Valentine’s Day does give us the opportunity to be super-creative, however. You could embed a diamond ring into the walls of a retreating glacier in Iceland, meaning you will literally be the last people ever to experience that spot. Our sister company, specialist travel agency Black Tomato, did just this for someone recently (and the Sunday Times wrote it up…).

Head West and you could have your partners name spelled out by cheerleaders at the half time show at an NFL match. For the more conservative budget, but no less unique, why not take a private stroll through the backstreets of London on a Graffiti Tour with a local artist, and finish with tagging your partner’s name, or a suitably romantic message on a special wall for all to see?

Are there any golden rules to maximising the effect of a prize trip?

Agencies and brands are under pressure to demonstrate ROI on their competitions, more than ever before. A good way to show how effective your campaign was is through UGC (User Generated Content).

Every prize winner is a budding photographer/travel writer/film maker so harness their desire to be creative. Something as simple as a GoPro, selfie stick or a lightweight laptop gives winners the tools to document their trip, giving the brand free and rich content that it can use after the prize has been awarded, either to drum up chatter for the next promotion or simply to show how much fun the winner had.

How can I pack a big punch with a small budget?

The best ideas don’t always have to be brought to life with the biggest budget. It is the unique and thoughtful elements that leave a lasting impression. Look for ways you can add a little bit of magic to an existing package.

A trip to London for two nights can be transformed from something perfectly nice into something that lives on long in the memory of a winner. Why not speak to the hotel they are staying at and ask the bar, just for the night the winners are there, to name a cocktail on their drinks board after the winners? Mr. and Mrs. Smith pop down for evening drinks to see a really special ‘special’ on the board.

A tiny touch, but one that will massively increase the “punch” of your prize.


Andrew Rae is Head of Promotions at prize management specialist The Black Tomato Agency, which designs and manages boundary-pushing prize experiences at home and abroad. With an in-house team of prize management experts and award winning travel operators and working together with top marketing agencies, FMCG brands, media owners, film studios and radio stations, promotions are brought to life and perfectly delivered in an on-brand and innovative way.

The Black Tomato Agency is a sponsor of the IPM Awards 2016 and will be supplying prize experiences for the event.





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