Getting To Know you: Jeremy Stern, Founder & CEO, PromoVeritas

Getting To Know you: Jeremy Stern, Founder & CEO, PromoVeritas

29 May    Finance News, Profiles

We got to sit down with Jeremy Stern, the founder and Chief Executive of PromoVeritas, a company dedicated to ensuring promotional compliance in prize promotions.

With over two decades of experience, Jeremy shares the inspiration behind his business, his journey of maintaining integrity and fairness in the industry, and his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. From overseeing prize draws to handling global campaigns for major brands, PromoVeritas has established itself as a leader in promotional compliance, ensuring that every competition runs smoothly and legally.

What do you do at PromoVeritas? What was the inspiration behind your business?

I am the founder and Chief Executive of PromoVeritas, the independent promotional compliance service. PromoVeritas was set up with one single purpose – to ensure that prize promotions were set up and run fairly, legally and securely. We would not get involved in the creative idea, we would leave that to the big name ad agencies. What I wanted to focus on was the ‘back end’; the delivery of the idea, something that was often forgotten about. And the inspiration came from my experience as a Marketing Manager and Marketing Director for some big brands. The secretary might pick the winner of a prize draw, an intern might ‘judge’ just a few of the entries to a competition, not all of them, and as for those ‘Golden Ticket’ instant prize promotions, who could say whether they had issued randomly all of those ‘ten cars to be won’ special packs?

And we have stuck true to that idea for 20+ years, however we have expanded our range of services. Not only do we oversee hundreds of prize draws and competitions a year, we also now do all the legal work, writing the terms & conditions and checking artwork; we also build the websites used to receive entries, we handle all the winners, checking that they are eligible and sorting out their prizes. Crucially, we do all of this for brands all over the world. It might be an on pack offer for Pringles in 40 countries, or a social media campaign run globally for Booking.com – we’ve even been behind the amazing Hunt the Cadbury Crème Egg promotion for the last 12 years. We sneak into the Cadbury factory late at night, oversee the creation of the special eggs (this year they were half white, half dark chocolate) then we drive around the whole of the UK secretly placing them into random stores for lucky consumers to find and claim up to £10,000. We are professional Happy Makers!

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Who do you admire?

I admire, my late father, David Stern. He was an architect by career, with his own practice in London and I still get great pleasure from knowing that his name is on a plaque on a number of large buildings around the city (although his classic 70’s style of design is somewhat out of fashion now!). But he was also an inventor and artist. At the age of 82 he was asked by the local newspaper to describe himself in three words he came up with creative, considerate and ambitious. Still ambitious at the age of 82.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

Absolutely. I wish I had been braver and seen the opportunity for helping brands with their cross-border campaigns much earlier. Brands such as Amazon, Budweiser, Pokémon, Kellogg’s and Pepsi now trust us to make their plans come to fruition in over 80 countries worldwide. But sometimes it is difficult to see the size of the opportunity when you are operating in the day to day so much, and even harder to be brave enough to set aside the resources necessary to exploit it. I have learnt from that and now we have a dedicated legal team, and overseas work is nearly half of our business today. In addition, we have a focus on building up our digital work, being able to create the microsites that actually run the campaigns, where people enter. This has required significant investment (and some failures) but is now paying back and we run some amazing campaigns, and off the back of this we are able to leverage the data that is acquired and assist our clients with better planning and targeting from these learnings.

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What defines your way of doing business?

As for how we do business, I have two mantras: be fair, and be for the long term. We seek to run our client’s campaigns with honesty and integrity, so we need to run our business along the same lines. I would much rather keep a client working with us by operating with a low margin, rather than make a high margin on their first project with us. Our focus is very much on repeat business, and 70% of our income is from clients who have been with us for more than 5 years. Additionally, we have to earn the trust of our clients and their consumers. The buck literally stops with us. So, we pay particular attention to being honest. Delays, mistakes and overruns all need to be communicated speedily to the client. No cover ups. Fortunately, there are very few, but it can happen – we are human. Once we gave the client the wrong entry code for a Text to Win campaign. They printed it on posters that went into 1,000 stores. The code didn’t work for some networks. We had to organise an army of people to visit all 1,000 stores and put up a sticker with the new code. It cost us over £80,000 but we paid it with a smile on our faces because that is what good looks like. And the client is still with us.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

There may be a gap in the market, but is there a market in the gap? Just because no one else has done it does not mean you can make money out of the idea. The best new business ideas emerge not out of the blue, but out of the experience of the individual in other roles; they see better ways of doing what they are currently doing, or new products or services linked to that role. So don’t be afraid to switch jobs or try new industries – you may be able to bring the experience from one area into another and be seen as a superhero! Finally, stay focussed on the client. Think about them, their needs, their feedback, and you will find it easier to succeed.

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