Tag Archives: Genghis Grill

Frankly, I’m Embarrassed

Image Credit: "Embarrassed" from MeInLilaPark
Image Credit: “Embarrassed” from MeInLilaPark

It takes a LOT to embarrass me, but the Genghis Grill Health Kwest has done it to me (and countless others).

Merriam-Webster defines embarrass as follows: “to make (someone) feel confused and foolish in front of other people; to make (a person…) look foolish in public.”

As I mentioned in a previous post, I thought this contest would be a fun way to lose weight and make my social media skills shine. Instead, I feel foolish for ever having participated in it in the first place. It’s amazing what people will put up with (or do) when  the possibility of winning $10,000 is dangled in front of them.

Here’s what I’m embarrassed about.

I am embarrassed to be associated with an organization that rewards people who use diuretics, stimulants and dehydration to lose ~80 pounds (25% of his body weight) in 60 days, all while calling the contest a HEALTH Kwest. This year’s winner admitted doing so in his own blog posts, many of which have been deleted. When I shared screen captures of his admissions, those running the contest chose to do nothing about it. (Oh, and last year’s winner wrote about eating 300-800 calories a day during the contest to lose weight.)

I am embarrassed that I asked anyone to help me via YouTube views and Facebook likes and shares to spread news of this contest.

I am embarrassed that I asked students at several universities to help me write headlines in “Upworthy style” to entice people to watch my video I made for Genghis Grill.

I am embarrassed that I had forgotten one of the more important rules about sharing sponsored content in social media by disclosing that I was being compensated by Genghis Grill. I corrected this mid-course, but still, I should have known better.

I am embarrassed that I allowed myself to #ShillfortheGrill (as one of my fellow contestants called it) for the mere price of a bowl of food a day. Had I spent a similar amount of time writing creative content for a client, odds are good I would have been compensated much more than a few dollars a day.

I am embarrassed that I did not withdraw myself from the contest earlier. Once I was told by those running the contest that everything we were being asked to do was perfectly ethical and didn’t break any rules, terms of service or FTC guidelines, I should have stepped out then as I knew this wasn’t the case. Somehow, I kept thinking that things would get better and those running the contest would take my advice to make needed changes. It never happened.

I am sorry.


In the Interest of Full Disclosure


Adapted from my post at Public Relations Matters from March 8,  2014.

UPDATE 3-31-2014: I have withdrawn from the Genghis Grill’s 2014 Health Kwest, and I have made all posts about that contest private on my blog for the time being.

As someone who had taught public relations for more than two decades, I should have known better. But I got caught up in the excitement of being part of a contest, and I have neglected to provide full disclosure with every post/photo/video I have I uploaded as a constant in Genghis Grill’s 2014 Health Kwest that the restaurant chain is providing me one free meal a day. And not making this disclosure goes against recent FTC guidelines. (There is wording about this in FanCorps, where we accept our daily “orders,” but like many, I just clicked right past it without reading carefully.)

NOTE: I am not a lawyer, nor am I giving legal advice. I am just sharing my understanding of the guidelines.

So I am making that right now. I will go back and edit as much as I can to include a disclosure I created at the  cmp.ly website.

Here’s how to create a disclosure of your own:

  1. Go to http://cmp.ly and sign up for an account as an Individual Advocate.
  2. Choose which type of compliance you need. For my participation in this contest, it’s #3.
  3. Add specific language for your circumstances. For me, I added “The author of the message that directed you to this page has the following material connection: the author was compensated (via a giftcard worth one meal a day) to promote Genghis Grill as part of its Health Kwest 2014 contest.”
  4. Then use the unique URL that Cmp.ly provides in everything you post that is based on being compensated. Mine is http://my-disclosur.es/HVNLJa .

Useful Resources



It Will Be Fun, They Said. They Were Wrong.

Photo Credit: "Sad Clown" by Shawn Campbell
Photo Credit: “Sad Clown” by Shawn Campbell

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)
And here are a few additional concerns with the contest rules.
  • 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.

NOTE: I have NO concerns about my local Genghis Grill restaurant in Rogers, AR. They’ve been wonderful to me both before and throughout this contest.
UPDATE 4-24-2014: Oh, just wait until you read the latest about this contest.