Thursday, 28 October 2010

Next Baby Competition 2010....A farce or the inevitable?

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I was emailed a few weeks ago telling me about a competition that was going to be run by Next to find two baby models. The terms of the competition looked OK and Next are known to be a reputable company and we love their clothes so I thought hay why not, it is a paid sponsored post and my readers might just fancy it.

Well I bow my head in shame I can tell you.

The competition is all being run through their facebook page and parents can upload one picture of their baby and at the end the 12 with the most votes will go to a casting and Next will pick the winner. Sounds OK?

Well it has turned into a complete war on their facebook page with entrants trying to bag the most votes for their little bundle of joy, people are making youtube videos to promote their children and doing 'like for like' voting. Entrants are apparently receiving hate mail regarding their children...it really is a disgrace that parents and/or people in general can behave like this.

Why the PR Company behind this didn't just say they would pick the finalists, in my opinion, is no big surprise. To enter you have to put in your email address (of which there are thousands of entrants) and anyone who votes for their child also has to supply their email address. Parents on the Next ‘Facebook Wall’ have even admitted to canvassing down their street to get votes! So Next have essentially got thousands upon thousands of email addresses all for £500 and a 12 month modelling contract!

That said I am not sure Next did foresee the complete chaos that has ensued. They had to close down their comments overnight so they could catch up on responses and they now seem to have a big team of moderators on hand to answer the questions that are coming in by the dozen by the minute.

Why does it come to this? What makes these parents become so competitive, is it just an extension of the whole 'American Beauty Pageant' Culture? Whatever it is, it is not healthy and I am scared of BB growing up in a world that is based on such 'fake' aspirations. I personally don't see anything wrong with entering your baby into the competition, but there is definitely such a thing as taking it too far.

What are your thoughts? I know a lot of mummy bloggers hosted this competition on their blog...did you know it would turn into this? I know when I was young they used to run newspaper baby competitions which were a bit of fun and nice, so do we just have to accept this is the new media and this is what happens 'these days' in the social media arena? If we do I think it is a very sad day and time we are living in.

27 comments:

  1. Hi, great post.

    I too hosted it on my blog, although I did raise my concerns with the PR contact and commented in my post about issues with voting competitions.

    As well as being a blogger, I am also a 'comper' - I enter competitions as a hobby. There is a huge movement to get these types of voting comps on facebook banned. I've entered some in the past and been sent nasty threatening messages. Its actually not confined to beautiful baby contests (although I suspect if its your child entered then you are going to have stronger emotions about it) but this kind of vile behaviour goes on for all sorts of contests. The bigger the prize, the lower people will stoop. You really would not believe some of the things that go on.

    Many many large and reputable companies have been caught up in such debacles recently.

    I've removed the link from my blog as I do not wish to be associated with it anymore, and wish I never had in the first place to be honest!

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  2. I initially thought I wouldn't post the competition as it all went slightly mad last year but I decided to in the end as I was sure it would be better organised this year but it looks like it's all gone haywire!

    I blogged about it yesterday and got over 1000 visits to that post! It's just mad.

    Surely it would be fairer if the Next team just picked the ones that go through to the next stage....

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  3. WOW! People just suck- that's why they're behaving like animals over £500 and a modeling contract. Sorry I'm a little down on the world this week. PS I still can't comment on your blog unless I'm using Opera.

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  4. Great post! I blogged about the competition on my blog too last week and like you, did not foresee any of this! I thought something was wrong when my blog stats were going through the roof and then I took a look at the Next FB wall for myself.. Oh my! I honesty thought it sounded like a lovely competition and thought it would be of interest to my readers but now I'm not so sure if I want to be associated with it at all! It is awful that it has turned into this :-/

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  5. It is a great shame, I'm sure the people at Next put in a lot of hard work, to run, like you say something 'nice' - yes they've got their email mailing list from it - but no one coudl ahve foreseen the mayhem! They've created "mumzilla!!" no normal folk act like these people, and Carly is right to be scared of a future where this sort of behaviour seems the norm.

    Kids don't stand a chance with no proper role models

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  6. It's hard to foresee these things. I manage a few Facebook pages for companies and we had a similar issue with a competition a few weeks ago, on a much more smaller scale though. I couldn't believe the comments we were getting from people who, on the face of it, would appear to have no interest in the company or the product. The behaviour of some peopl online is reprehensible and I think we all know that. I think a lot of companies are still learning how to manage social media, it's a shame it's degenerated into this. I'm still going to blog about the competition because I said I would and we all know it's sponsored and that helps me. I'm sure Next will learn from this and move on.

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  7. Please, please Next get your act together NOW, this is a complete farce. I work for a samll PR agency and even we know that using Facebook is a lethal tool when used in this way. Surely you have put a clause in your terms/condition/rules to say that the competition rules can be changed ........ I would have thought that you wanted a baby/child that suited the criteria for your catalogue and therefore should have been chosen by YOU not the public. Unless this is sorted in a far way the name NEXT will become a complete 'joke' and be known for the company who has exploited our children and encouraged the adults involved to act like ANIMALS.

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  8. It's a sad day indeed! I have also blogged about the next comp, I try not to look in on it too much as its like watching a pack of animals fighting!

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  9. I put my son in to the competition and thought be fun putting him in the baby competition like lots of mums and dads do and im sad that you can not even put your child in a baby competition with out wars and dramas, and people ruining things for others, i went through the next official site, and looks totally genuine

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  10. Helen I love that term 'mumzilla'..sums them up perfectly :-)

    I have receieved a LOT of emails following this post saying that the competition is not genuine etc but I can assure you it is. Next have it advertised in store, on their website and I was asked by their PR company to promote it. All the links go to their facebook page so please do not worry about that.

    I have removed a few posts that some concerned parents wrote saying that the competition was a fake and set up by a ring of 'P@*d@ph|les' because I do not want that word written on my blog for SEO (search engine) reasons. Hope you all understand.

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  11. our local paper runs a baby comp with 3 age group winners, and an overall from the 3, one of the entrants mums, bought 600 newspapers and filled in the forms, where you only put the childs name and agegroup to enter, when she handed all the forms in they told her she need more and bought the relevant amont plus extra, so her daughter would win!
    i find it ridiculous people would go this far, but the newspaper staff accepted these from her and told her she needed more, surekly that cant be right?
    IT IS ALL A BIG JOKE.......

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  12. Mad mothers wanting to showcase their kids. I am truly disgusted by Next and there attitude toward this. They know my 15 month old son would win hands down.

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  13. I agree.

    Personally I don't have a problem with people entering their babies in such competitions. What really rankles here is the fact that people are putting their children in a public forum and asking people to vote on their "cuteness."

    That's just wrong.

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  14. I agree i think its a farce the best baby might not have a lot of associates to vote for them i think next should have picked the model rather than have it a public vote it is like a cattle mart

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  15. It is a complete farce you can vote hundreds of times and make up e-mails they dont even have to be real as long as it has .co or .com at the end it accepts it thats why some people have so much votes the mothers must spend all day on the laptop or computer instead of looking after there child is it for them or there babies

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  16. HI, i entered my baby into the next competition; asked couple friends and family to vote because as you mentioned, i thought it would be fun!
    I just about promoted him on facebook, twitter and msn and hoped for the best.
    Its true, some mothers are very competitive to the extent of spreading the rumour that the competition was run by pedophiles... ect.
    I gave up on the promotion because there was alot of problems with my child's link and people who had never voted were told and are still being told "you have already votes for this entry".
    I personally believe that next gets the last say on the final decision; the people's votes do not affect it as much as you may think!

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  17. I agree, i think the votes are not quite made out to be

    i do believe that certain entries are bumped up by the organisers rather than because of votes

    is it a scam to collate thousands of email addresses

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  18. excuse me helen....proper role model how dare you be so judgemental...yes agree that the comp has got a bit mad, mums are voting for each other's babies, but only after they have exhausted friend, family connections. I have entered my baby and I am in the first 200 out of 90,000 entry's, most of my votes have been from my family etc. The majority of the mums are honest and exchange votes in a polite and decent manner. Next are to blame for any problems, they should never have had it running like this in the first place. I'm not a 'mumzilla' I don't really care about it that much, I don't really want to get into the final now because of all the babd press. I enteref for fun and because he was doing so well carried on, I am not an over obsessed mad comping mum, or a 'bad role model' who the hell are you to judge another person, you don't even know any of the mother's. Just because you blog does that give you a right, keep your narrow minded views for youself, wheres your kids when your blogging.....

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  19. Sarsbabe - Berniece16 November 2010 at 09:38

    Glad I have just read this post as I had concerns over entering my little girl. Today is the closing date and I have now decided not to bother!

    It just seems a little unprofessional for a classy name like Next to host it through Facebook, I really don't like that idea.

    Good look to everyone that has entered though.

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  20. What a vile post posted by Anonymous on 14th Nov - she clearly seems to have felt a nerve hit! To be honest, I didn't read it as though you were being judgemental Helen, which is in fact exactly what that person is doing in suggesting you're not looking after your kids when you're blogging (er, some of us blog when our children are asleep in fact - sorry, I am defending you when I don't even know you!). I know a little about this type of competition, and in fact am about to run one with my company (not baby-related), and am never quite at ease with people voting for each other, precisely because competitiveness, especially when it's on something personal, like looks or personal comments, brings out the absolute worst in people. I saw the Next comp in-store, and considered it for half a sec, as clearly I think my girl is gorgeous (;)) but then realized that if it is consumer voted it could get horrible. I have friends who do baby-modelling with their kids, and I know that it can be quite cut-throat, so would rather not even go there.

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  21. I have to agree I don't see anything judgemental in Helen's comment and neither has anyone else and this post have received thousands of unique visits.

    Sorry I didn't pick up on that comment by Anonymous earlier...this post has received so much attention and I have been getting so many emails from concerned mum's about how they entered their children that I just haven't had time to go through everything.

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  22. its such a shame that the competition has so much bad publicity i tried to vote for a child in the gallery today who i think is beautiful and i couldn't get on the site due to high demand i noticed the first 24 had stars against there pictures as if they were already picked all i can say is i would't want my child to be a winner due to bad publicity

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  23. I have taken my daughter out of the competition as i felt there was too much publicity. i only entered her as a bit of fun but due to the competitive i took her out what ever happened to good fun everyone thinks there child is the most beautiful child ever. good luck to the ones thats left in the competition.

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  24. it is a total farce the competition is a fix dont care what people think but next should get in touch with the so called people and ask if they have voted for the child or not. I know a lady that has on her days off from work sat and made up e-mail addresses and voted for her own child which is in the top 12 its not a very good way of picking a model is it? the worst thing is she is only kidding her self and its a shame on the other kids

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  25. can't wait to see the outcome of the competition how embarassing for the true competitors not the ones who have cheated its just a total mess hope next sorts this out before it gets a more bad publicity

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  26. Its good to see listen /read all these comments, i know between me and various work colleagues we have posted over two thousand plus votes from genuine e-mail addresses and was still surprised to find my daughter still falling in the 100's. I would like to know how many votes the actual winners got, and were they genuine e-mail addresses. A loving dad LCGC

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  27. The whole comp was a fase kids who deserve thechance lost out to mumzilla mothers who cheat I personally can only see 1 child out if the 48 who could potentially be a baby model

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