You’re the Lucky Winner!

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A new promotion by the Nestle candy company could easily take one of two different paths: It could be an exciting, headline-grabbing campaign that will make the company look tech-savvy and fun, or it could lead straight to a privacy invasion lawsuit. It all depends on just how a few lucky winners use GPS devices that they find.


Remember the “golden ticket” contest in Roald Dahl’s book, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”? The 21st-century version is Nestle’s new campaign, taking place in the United Kingdom. Instead of candy bars, six otherwise normal-looking packages contain GPS devices, which the winner can activate at his convenience. According to the contest’s claims, once the device is activated, a team of excited prize bearers will find the winner within 24 hours. The prize? 10,000 British pounds—a lot of money. Oh, plus a real candy bar in case the winner is disappointed that he didn’t get one in the package he bought in the first place.


This all sounds fantastic, until you begin considering the negative possibilities of a team of prize messengers bursting in on a winner. After all, once you activate the device, you really don’t know exactly when they’re going to arrive, probably with cameras and a high level of publicity. For example, what if you are a police officer in the middle of a tense hostage situation? A trash collector on a truck, being chased down the street by candy bar company representatives? A ten-year old boy in the middle of a math test?


The GPS device does contain a long list of qualifications for the winner to read before activating it, intended to avoid just those situations. But what lucky prize winner has the presence of mind to run through all the ramifications before claiming 10,000 pounds of cash? Once they hit that button, probably the first thing that will occur to each winner is when they hope the prize crew doesn’t show up.


But we’ll see. It does sound like a fun adventure, and it will be exciting to see GPS featured in a story that doesn’t involve recovering stolen property or busting drug smugglers. It’s an incredibly useful technology, but it can make the world more fun as well.

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Mark Rummel

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