Atop a heap of blog-dumps now.

Sometimes, during those rare times I get to watch noontime TV, I get to see those ‘text promos’ or contests that seem to be a staple among noontime and pre-primetime shows. It’s those ‘keyword-space-name-space-answer-space-and-send-to-insert four numbers here’ type of contests, normally asking the audience a question about what just had happened in the show. Often these are of the multiple choice type, and I remembered rolling my eyes at a particular question whose correct answer was noticeably larger than the rest. And while I muttered about these questions being unbelievably easy to garner more texters, a thought came to me: ten years or so ago, these promos would’ve been done by mail. Today, the ‘dropbox’ promos still exist, but they have been largely supplanted by text promos.

I think that many of us are so fascinated with the Internet, we sometimes forget about SMS. Maybe because SMS is just that – text in limited numbers generated by pushing buttons, which can become really tedious when creating lengthy messages (no matter how much of a text ninja we become by frequency of use). On the other hand, the Internet is this endless world of awesome sights and information, accessible in just a few clicks. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the cellphone is more widespread than Internet access. Despite having Internet shops, DSL and wireless broadband providers, the Internet is still largely constricted to the middle and upper classes. Meanwhile, the cellphone has integrated itself nicely in all levels of Filipino society. It’s everywhere and moreover, it’s portable. Even the local tricycle driver has a cellphone, and even the farmer living in Isabela. This is what the sponsor companies and TV shows have realized and put to good use. These ‘multiple choice questions’ are less of a brain challenge and more of a bait and means to cash in the number of hands wielding these blessed devices.

We could see the marriage of the old and new in these text promos – the promise of the ‘instant, easy yaman’ (a dream which most Filipinos are madly in love with) which started in the dropbox contests of decades ago and the prevalence of a modern convenience, the cellphone. It is very easy to create a message according to the contest template and keep pressing the send button until the load runs out. I guess there’s something…addicting in its simplicity and ease. Additionally the carrot in this situation is the tantalizing promise that the road to riches just became easier. Moreover, it guaranteed that everyone with a cellphone is free to join these contests (save when the contests require those ‘proof of purchase’ items), broadening the number of possible texters and the amount of money that could be raked in. The key here is in making the audience feel the need to text. Advertisements are limited to text in cellphones (to assure a maximum number of  recipients) and even those are subject to controversy, since we all hate spam and it’s a grievous breach of privacy if organizations suddenly get a hold of your cell number without your knowledge. Companies can’t advertise to the massive number of cellphone holders, but they came up with a brilliant thought anyway: so why not make them go to us? We can see a bit of psychology here, in the use of the ‘easy money’ appeal. It might sound strange or even plain distasteful to some of us, but for those sick and tired of poverty, these contests are a ticket to a better life.

Anyways, I think that trends are beginning to shift again, since I’ve seen a text promo incorporating the Internet in their modus operandi. Alright, so it’s more of an ‘alternative way’ to key in your proof of purchase’s code, but it acknowledged the fact that Internet access is slowly and surely rising among their target audience. Maybe that’s the next step – widespread internet promos of noontime or primetime shows. I dunno if they’ll affect the quality of those shows (for which I have a rather…interesting opinion of), but it’s clear that there’s no stopping. We could see here that organizations will always be willing to utilize the latest, most widespread technology to reach their audience and get their profits. And they will, really.

Let’s show texting some love, come on.