Adapted from my post at Public Relations Matters from March 31, 2014.
Early in 2014, I thought it would be a lot of fun to participate in the Genghis Grill Health Kwest. I had the chance to win $10,000, and I got a gift card worth one free stir-fry bowl a day from the restaurant. It seemed like it would be a fun way to lose some weight and use my social media skills.
By the end of March, I chose to withdraw myself from the 2014 Health Kwest due to concerns I have with Genghis Grill’s ethics in the management of the contest. Some concerns I have are as follows:
- not informing contestants about our (and their) obligation to disclose that GG provided free meals for us in exchange for our posts in social media
- going against terms of service for multiple social media platforms (such as requiring us to post something on our personal Facebook profiles)
- not providing objective criteria for judging the mini-contests (worth $300-$500) ahead of time
- changing some of the orders/challenges the day that they are due (such as Sunday’s order that had been to record a video in a grocery store, and was changed on Sunday to something different)
- recommending that we could “stage” photos of ourselves “enjoying” a specific beverage to post in social media
- requiring a Yelp review (again, with no disclosure that we received free food)
- The contest rules state that no additional purchase is needed to enter or win. However, several of the challenges/orders required contestants to purchase something from Genghis Grill or elsewhere (including Skinny Drinks, Red Diamond iced tea and Vitamin Water).
- The contest rules state that 1,000 points are possible for weight loss, and 1,000 points are possible for social media. However, the top 30 contestants as of April 1 all have more than 2,000 points earned, and the contest isn’t over yet. How were these extra points earned? There has been no explanation.
- The contest rules state that “each Genghis Grill bowl has an Approximate Retail Value of $599.” If this is the case, then the Health Kwest gift cards given to the contestants should be worth $599 x 61 (days) or $36,539.
I have addressed these concerns with Genghis Grill’s social media manager, the Senior Marketing Director, the Chief Marketing Officer and the CEO, to no avail.