MTN launched an SMS competition to celebrate its 15 year anniversary in late April, which the cellular operator said was skills based and hence complied with the Lottery Act.
While the competition may have proved profitable to the company, the high cost of entering the competition – R 7.50 per SMS – and the fact that multiple entries were encouraged were slated by concerned consumers.
There were further allegations that the MTN SMS competition may have been rigged where “winners who have walked away with a Toyota Fortuner knew exactly how many SMSes they needed to send to win the vehicle.”
MTN has now decided to can the competition, saying that the debate surrounding the initiative was not in line with MTN’s values and detracted from the planned spirit of the game.
It is surprising that MTN decided to launch this competition despite the fact that Vodacom received similar bad press for their “100 cars in 100 days” last year. One Vodacom employee said “here comes MTN’s ‘100 cars in 100 days’ mess” when she learned about the competition – something which proved to be prophetic.
Vodacom was eventually ordered to halt their competition by the National Lotteries Board who declared it an illegal lottery. “The board is satisfied that it has done its duty in policing and stopping the illegal lottery,” the National Lotteries Board said in a statement.
MTN however did not appear to have learnt from their rival Vodacom’s mistake, and one industry expert, who asked to remain anonymous, said that the lure of easy cash must have clouded the cellular giant’s judgment.
MTN did not disclose how much profit it made from the competition.
MTN SMS Competition – give your views