Crate & Barrel: the “Ultimate Wedding” results may be legal, but are they “right?”

IB Publisher Jody Glynn Patrick blends work and life in this very clear departure from both her column for In Business magazine, and the other bloggers. Awarded national recognition for her previous work as a newspaper columnist, she brings us all back "Closer to Home" with her insights and remembrances. A nice place to be "After Hours." Check back often! Read Full Bio

Thanks to all who voted for the disabled Chicago police officer for the “Ultimate Wedding” contest that I brought to your attention in a previous blog — and thanks for the many questions I’ve since received about the results.

I received an e-mail announcement, as a voter myself, from Crate & Barrel stating that although my favorite couple did, in fact, win (by a landslide) the most votes, and had the most compelling story, the business decided to give the winning package to another couple. But our police officer and his bride got a $500 gift card … or so the e-mail (which also carried promotional messages for the company) informed me.

I promptly posted a comment on the company’s Facebook page: “I followed the Ultimate Wedding contest and encouraged many people to vote as well, believing the hype that it was important to get the most votes for the most deserving couple. What a bunch of hype that was. The most vote getters … and many felt the most deserving … did not win, but got some token prize for garnering the most attention for your site, and the most e-mails for your future use. Great. Really legitimate, transparent promotion. Waited until you found the couple that met your demographics and needs — not too moving a story, so that anyone could feel it could be them in the future, so you can perpetuate this way of garnering new e-mails again — a hero in his own way didn’t meet that profile, I guess. Congratulations on finally finishing your contest. I won’t be shopping in your stores again, nor believing your hype about your products, either — nor helping you get more votes for your next marketing campaign.”

This prompted a response from a persona that I actually believe is a Crate & Barrel employee — or someone employed by the company to handle their negative postings. He poses as an interested reader only, and basically said I was ignorant about the rules — he was right in that — and then he posted a link to his article trying to explain it in legalese. Checking his Facebook page (this is required to post to Facebook) and only finding a photo and a fan page logo for Crate & Barrel … you might see why this fueled my thoughts that my suspicion that he’s not who he says he is (an impartial third party) is true. (Though I continue to state it not as fact, but as opinion.)

I then posted a comment to his comment and will be interested to see how long that remains on the page unanswered (or even posted).

It’s a waste of time — I admit it up front — but there is a legal right to manipulate emotions and expectations, and a moral “should we run a business this way?” question here that begs answering.

I may have been an uninformed voter, but I am not going to be an uninformed loser.

Meanwhile, speaking of contests…
Here are some ticklers to remind you to join our IB contests, which are perfectly transparent. You send in four photo entries, for example — we require four per entry — and four members of our staff vote, not knowing the identity of any of the photographers; they rank the photos, as a group exercise, 1 through the total number of entrees. Those ranked one through 10 are then published each month. Clear and fair.

In the case of the writing “contest,” everyone is a winner. All 60-word story entries that meet the criteria are published (two criteria — nothing judged to be obscene or a personal attack can be written into the entry, and the author cannot use more or less than 60 words, including the title). I am the only “judge” and my role is actually to count words and post.

To remind you how fun the contests are, here is a sample of a photo sent in by a reader which is typical of the great quality we are receiving from our monthly photo contest entries:

Bluebird by Carol Santulis, taken in her vegetable garden

And here are four samples of 60-word stories, to serve as your muse so you can get to penning one for our readers today!

The Door by Torrey Jaeckle
The door stood before him, slightly ajar. He really didn’t want to go in. What was compelling him to do this? He was too embarrassed to enter. Was there a way out? No he thought, no way. His palms were sweaty. He reached for the handle, and slowly pulled it open. Just in time for the Gospel reading.

Change by Van Nutt
Her voice came through the cell phone around 1:15pm on a Thursday, “They’re offering me the job tomorrow.” “That’s great,” he replied, his enthusiasm bordering on sarcasm. His lunch partner knew what was happening, and how what would have been a joy-filled moment for almost anyone else was devastating — he would actually have to consider leaving for the coast.

Trivial Pursuit by Laurie Traverse-Smith
You remember waitresses’ names.
You use 17 unique Web passwords.
You can still recite the smattering of French learned in Paris, recall how your ex mother-in-law voted in ’96, and remember who sat behind you in third grade.
“Where was the original capital of Poland?” I ask. “Krakow,” you answer.
Hey there, Mensa, my birthday was actually yesterday.

Lady in Black by Ed Sobzek
Esmeralda prepared a small lunch for Fedro and the two walked to the Portuguese beach together. The waves were too high, but fish must be caught. As he gave her a kiss, he said he felt lucky today.
Twelve little boats went into the frothy, choppy ocean, but only eleven returned.
Esmeralda waited … then changed into black.

Share your “After Hours” talents with us today! E-mail your submissions to jodyp@magnapubs.com.

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