The new garden of Eden – much, much more than a green theme park

February 23, 2010

The Eden project is an educational charity quite unlike any other. It started back in 1999 by taking an old disused Cornish clay pit. This was 60M deep, the size of 35 football pitches, had no soil and was 15M below the water table. From this has emerged one of the world’s most spectacular symbols of hope.

They call themselves a living theatre of plants and people. And it just shows what can be achieved, when an inspired group of people work together. That hole in the ground has been turned into a unique organisation. Businesses can learn a great deal from their passion.

For me, these are Eden Project’s top five lessons to be learnt:

1. They are passionate communicators. They have the ability to move effortlessly and seamlessly between the different audiences they are involved with; adults, educators, politicians, children, art, technology and the like.
2. They don’t miss a trick when it comes to promoting their organisation. They relentlessly use exhibits, events, workshops and educational programmes to constantly remind people what nature gives to us and how to look after it in return.
3. They cleverly exploit customer retention. The entrance fee isn’t for a day, but covers entry for a whole year – but you have to provide your contact details. This enables them to promote their ‘friends’ giving programme. And as they know that many guests come from afar on holiday, they also have an ‘efriends’ version too.
4. They give freely of their knowledge, trying to ensure everyone who surfs their web site leaves knowing something more about their connections to the world.
5. The programmes they run are interesting, inspiring, topical and relevant and above all in tune with their audiences. For example encouraging children to get outside and connect with the natural world. Or to explore climate issues. Or to look at food and health. Collaboration is fundamental to their ethos.

Eden Project is a great day out; providing a unique experiment in communication and public education in an interesting and stimulating way.

It creates a living stage to show that the choices we make can make a difference to the world in which we live. And it is a symbol of hope, showing just what can be achieved when people work together.

Loved it – you can find out more here.

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The £5,000 gamble when running promotions

February 2, 2010

Unless your raffle/prize draw is either free to enter (or requires payment, but with a free entry route) or constitutes a ‘skill competition’, it will be a lottery.

And any individual or company involved in promoting a competition which is a lottery or managing an illegal lottery is guilty of a criminal offence under the 2005 Gambling Act. If found guilty, you could be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 51 weeks (England and Wales) or six months (Scotland).

Skill competitions and free prize draws remain outside the Gambling Act, so it is important to structure such promotions to make sure that they do not inadvertently fall within the definition of a lottery, betting or gaming.

So what practical steps can you take to achieve this?

– The Gambling Act 2005 says that paying the usual price for something does not amount to payment to participate in a competition (which used to be the case). So a competition is not betting, provided the product featured in the promotion is sold at its normal price. Collate information to confirm this.

– Check that the skill element of a competition will either deter entry or eliminate a significant proportion of entrants. If you don’t think it will, you need to increase the skill aspect. Again, collect information to supports this.

– If the competition does not satisfy the skill requirement, make sure that no payment is required to participate. And this means payment to enter, find out who has won or to collect a prize.

– If you can’t do this there needs to be a well publicised free entry route which must be convenient and not discriminate. Posting a letter (first or second class, without special delivery arrangements), or making a standard charge telephone call is OK. However, a call or a text message to a premium rate telephone number isn’t.

– If the competition involves forecasting, participation should not require payment.

– Use the British Code of Advertising, Sale Promotion and Direct Marketing, the CAP Code, which sets out basic rules to be followed when running promotions. Broadcast commercials are subject to the BCAP TV or Radio Advertising Standards Code.

To summarise, if your competition does not satisfy the skill requirement and involves payment (without a free entry alternative), you should stop running it.

This article is not meant to be a detailed analysis of what is and isn’t legal, but to demonstrate that running a competition or prize draw is a potential minefield.

If you wish to run this type of promotion, get specialist advice. Then make sure it is signed off by a lawyer specialising in promotional law.

Good luck!

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