I received an email from the folks at Mamamia about a new Food Blogger Idol competition they were running. Instantly, I sensed it was going to be one of those competitions with a catch, like the one I experienced a while back with Travelscene. Anyway, out of interest, I thought I'd go and take a closer look.
So basically the competition involves the following:
Together with our good friends at Rachel’s Gourmet Low Fat Yoghurt we are launching Food Blogger Idol. Sounds kind of exciting huh? That’s because it IS. The winner of Mamamia Food Blogger Idol wins a 3 month contract (one paid and published post per week) as Mamamia’s New Food Blogger.
..To be crowned the dedicated Food Blogger for Mamamia and be read and shared by potential millions, all you need to do is create a unique recipe with a specific ingredient, one that we will share with you below.
...And, apart from the fact that it’s actually pretty easy to enter, we also get to introduce you all to the beautiful and foodie inspired low fat yoghurts from Rachel’s, this will be the key and only mandatory ingredient in the dish you create and write about as your entry.
Email your recipe list, how-to and loving description to email@example.com
Please accompany your recipe with a minimum of 5 photos (iPhones are fine!) of the creation process
We also need your name (including a ‘public’ alias if you’re the private type) and a head shot to show everyone your pretty face
You don’t have to live in Sydney to enter and won’t be required to come into the office (unless you want to!) if you’re successful
All entries must be received by Monday 2nd June 2014 11.59pm
If you've ever entered any of these competitions, your Spidey senses are probably going off already. This competition isn't about finding a food blogger idol obviously, it's about promoting Rachel's yoghurt. All that is fine. I'm not against promoting things and using competitions to promote something. I think the part that annoys me is that in this case, and other similar competitions where the entrants have to invest quite a bit of work, it may not be known to everyone that your work is no longer your work, regardless of whether you win or not. It would be logical, but incorrect, for most people to assume that the winner's work becomes the property of the competition promoters, but in fact, every entrants work is now no longer their own. So in this case, Mamamia, who I would assume is being paid by Rachel's Yoghurt to help promote them, has full ownership of entrants work, and can use in any which way they want.
If you go and read the full terms and conditions, there's all the stock standard disclaimers that basically they own everything that you submitted. It goes on for pages but the three conditions below give a summary of their rights:
(a) consent to the Promoter and/or Rachel’s making copies of or publishing the whole or any part of their entry/vote and otherwise exploiting the entry/vote and contents of the entry/vote and any rights in relation to the entry/vote, to publicise this competition, Rachel’s products, the Promoter, or for any other purposes;
(b) undertake to the Promoter and Rachel’s that their entry/vote is not, and its use by the Promoter and Rachel’s will not be, in breach of any third party intellectual property rights;
(c) grant the Promoter and Rachel’s a world-wide, royalty free, perpetual, irrevocable, transferrable licence (with a right to sublicense) to use their entry/vote (including by editing it) submitted as part of this competition for any purpose.
This means both Mamamia, and in association Rachel's, can use your photos and recipes for whatever they want. Rachel's Yoghurt may use your recipe for their next product. So in effect you've helped save them heaps of money in research and development and you will in all likelihood get nothing in return, not even a mention as the work is theirs now. Only the five finalists will be featured, with the lure that "to be crowned the dedicated Food Blogger for Mamamia and be read and shared by potential millions", somehow the exposure will help any aspiring food bloggers with dreams of cracking the food industry. The voting process is a popularity contest via social media and where you basically have to tell every single person you know about Mamamia and Rachel's Yoghurt to get a vote. It means you're further helping to promote them for some possible returns if you win. And what do you get if you win, you get to help them write 12 posts, 600-800 words each, at $200 a post. It's pretty bad pay to begin with, and it's not clear what you can write about. They may make you write about things you don't want to. And if you don't want to write what they ask you to, well then Clause 13 states:
13. In the event the final winner named Food Blogger Idol does not fulfill the provided contractual arrangements, the Promoter may pursue the employment of any of the other entrants . Any decision by the Promoter on future blogger employment contacted from entrants of this competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
And the winners obligations run quite far. It's not just the 12 articles you need to write. It also states:
17. The winners must, at the Promoter’s or Rachel’s request, participate in all promotional activity (such as publicity and photography) surrounding the winning of any prize, free of charge, and they consent to the Promoter and Rachel’s using their name and image in promotional material.
So you have to be their show pony at their beckon call. I wonder how far this clause stretches. Would you have to buy a plane ticket interstate to fulfill your obligations?
All in all, is this competition really an opportunity, or more like exploitation? Of course Mamamia will say that all the terms and conditions are there for everyone to read and it's not their problem if entrants don't read it, but they're not going out of their way to make it clear that all entries are their property within the competition description. If they clearly outline the implications and people still choose to enter, that's great. I have no problems with that. But when the competition's darker sides are hidden amongst a tonne of legal jargon, I find it all rather distasteful.