Tie-Breaker Competitions

What ever happened to tie-breaker competitions?


Martin Dove shares his thoughts…

Fashion plays a part in all our lives, whether we like it or not, and competitions, like anything else need to keep up with the times we live in...

When I started comping, the most common form of competition was the order of merit, or OOM as we called them. For those who can’t remember the OOM, contestants had to list several statements in the same order as the judges to win a prize.

Going back as far as the 1920s the most common form of competitions were "Bullets", "Nuggets" and "Trumps". The fact that 99% of compers will have never heard of any of those contests re-enforces my point that what's currently popular will not always remain so!

"Bullets", "Nuggets" and "Trumps" were, in fact, the forerunner of slogan competitions, which is eventually what they evolved into. Slogan writing as a form of tie-breaker competition has been in vogue for around 50 years, but lately there has been a shift away from slogans in favour of free prize draws.  The internet is one of the prime reasons for this, as promoters can simply pick a winner at random, without the need for a judging panel as is the case with tie-breaker competitions. 


Monotony has played a part in the tie-breaker’s demise

For several decades a consistent feature of the tie-breaker element in most British competitions has been their dismal similarity. On the promoters behalf it's fair to say that this sameliness is intentional, since the cardinal aim of the large-scale promotion is to attract as many entries as possible.

The interesting thing about the last sentence is that they are not my words. I lifted them from a 1988 book on entering competitions by my hero, Robert Kendal. So, if the tie-breaker competition was becoming dull and repetitious all those years ago, it’s no surprise that they're dying out today.

Martin Dove is a renowned writer and avid comper – you can find out more about him here.

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This article originally appeared in Simply Prizes magazine and has been revised for the web.

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