State park lovers look to Coke for funding

Jennifer Collins Sep 6, 2011

State park lovers look to Coke for funding

Jennifer Collins Sep 6, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Today’s the final day of voting in Coca-Cola’s contest to help a financially-strapped American park. The park with the most votes will get $100,000. And last we checked, Oak Park in Minot, N.D. was leading with nearly 3.2 million votes.

Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins now on the business of online contests.

Jennifer Collins: Shaun Sipma is a news anchor at KXMC in North Dakota, where the town of Minot has rallied around Oak Park.

Shaun Sipma: I know there are certain offices in town where they have the communal computers that people use, and one page is open at all times to vote for Minot.

The frenzy has even swept his office.

Sipma: My co-anchor at the 6 o’clock, she was voting during the commercial breaks on the news.

Oak Park suffered millions of dollars in damage from floods this year, so it could use the money to recover. So could Soudan Underground Mine State Park in Minn., which was hit by a fire. And so could McGrath State Beach in Calif., which is slated for closure.

Cindy Crawford: So a group of about 10 of us, we would stay up all night long voting.

That’s California resident Cindy Crawford — not the model. Coke allows people to vote as often as they want. And she says the site is faster in the wee hours.

Beth Kanter is co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit,” and has studied online contests.

Beth Kanter: What happens is usually these contests have a lot of money and so it encourages people to figure out how to game the system.

Kanter says for the companies that might not be a bad thing, because every time voters go online, they get a product pitch.

Denise Mayer votes about 100 times a day for Oak Park. She says the voting has gotten her thinking about her favorite beverage.

Denise Mayer: I drink only Coke, not Diet Coke. The straight-up diesel Coke.

What else is going to fuel her constant clicking?

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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