Kim Penstone

Over-exposed, again

2005-05-26 14:17

I don't like to think of myself as one of those 'workers' who surfs the net and plays solitaire or hearts while I should be furiously scribing an intelligent and well-thought out piece on the latest ad for Pfizer Health's new ... em ... libido enhancing drug for men.

But, for the past few days, that's just what I've been. Ever since a colleague of mine, who works in the same industry, sent me a viral email competition from KLM, with the chance to win two tickets to an overseas destination.

(I suspect she did it to distract me, to take my eye off the marketing ball. It's fair to say, it worked.)

Because, for two days now, my work (such as it is) has been interspersed between very many visits to the KLM site.

I've tried to fit the odd article in between this important endeavour, which is why it's so lucky I've been working from home - the site takes so long to download, that I'm able to write at least four or five paragraphs before having to choose my destination, my lucky seat, and have my boarding pass checked to see if I'm a 'winna'.

(In fact, I'm busy downloading as I write. Seems to be stuck at around 51%. But I'll hang on a little longer.)

Anyway, at first, I was completely impressed with the workings of this particular competition.

Short and sweet

It was short and sweet (site download time aside); it only asked me for my name, surname and email address (as opposed to bra size, deodorant preference, zip code and banking PIN number); and the only other information it managed to get out of me was my lucky number (although, by now I have about 40 lucky numbers, so that's pretty redundant.)

It also had a bang-up prize. Who can resist free air travel when it costs R2 000 to get to Cape Town, forget Bangkok!

And cleverly, it only allowed you to play once, unless you invited some friends to join in the frenzy by dishing out their email addresses (which, naturally, they guard as closely as their bra size and PIN number). Only once these 'friends' had played, would you be invited back.

I 'had' lots of friends!

Happily, I have lots of friends. Well, I have lots of email addresses.

I'm not sure about the 'friends' story, especially as I have now dished out their email addresses to an invisible database which will most likely start sending them notes about how to "improve their performance". (Clearly, not work-related.)

Gotta go. Site downloaded. Back in a jiff.

Oh. I just remembered the one failing of this competition. When it begins, it begins with the sound of a badly-in-need-of-fuel 747 - not conducive to open-plan offices. Another reason why working from home is good.

Of course, then, there's its biggest failing. The fact that I haven't won. And, unless my 120-odd 'friends' (okay, so I abused family, and colleagues too!) are being very cagey, neither have they.

And this, I'm afraid, leaves me with a rather sour taste of the KLM brand experience.

I can accept entering a competition once, and not winning. What I can't accept is entering it almost 40 times, and choosing almost every single seat available, only to discover that they're all 'unlucky'.

(Don't try and do the maths, I know I'm way out. That's why I'm a journalist. Just trust me on this.)

Before attempt No 29, KLM was way up there with my favourite brands, simply for offering me the opportunity to win a free holiday. But after attempt No 30, it was all downhill.

I now doubt the validity of this competition. True, I haven't yet read the 'terms and conditions' although I have ticked the box that says I have before entering the plane to choose my seat each time.

They may well say that it's just a joke, just a means of bolstering their database, sorry for you. Chances are it does. Of course, I'm too ticked off now to even check.

The fact remains that I hold a grudge against KLM because of this competition.

And this, I guess, is what is meant by over-exposure. As the mother of a friend of mine is fond of saying: once is funny, twice is silly, three times is a smack!

  • Despite her whinge, Kim Penstone is still playing the KLM game, just in case. At heart, she's an optimist. If any of her 'friends' win the free tickets, she expects them to take her with for kindly inviting them into the fray.

    For the more serious side of marketing and advertising, go to Kim's site,

    Send your comments to Kim Penstone or discuss this column now in our debating forum.

    Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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