PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., April 13 /PRNewswire/ -- On Wednesday afternoon (April 12), the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol once again did the job for which it is nationally famous -- thanks to years of TV advertising: it knocked on the door of an average American home and made the shocked occupant's dream come true with a cash windfall from the company's perennially treasure-filled sweepstakes. There were the balloons, the roses, the big check, the van, the champagne, the blue-blazered Prize Patrol and the video- cameraman capturing the excitement played out hundreds of times before. But what was different this time, and what is increasingly the case, was that this winner did not receive the official looking Publishers Clearing House mailer, peruse its colorful offerings of magazines, merchandise and prizes and reply by pasting stamps on an entry form; this lucky person entered the company's sweepstakes online. Indeed, more and more folks in search of prizes really worth winning are turning to the granddaddy of sweepstakes and its website which, like others, is increasingly popular. The site, pch.com, is also increasingly lucrative -- not just for the company which is realizing more magazine and merchandise revenue there, but for visitors who respond and win prizes worth thousands, even million dollar prizes. On Wednesday, John Zimmerman was on the receiving end as Dave Sayer, head of the Prize Patrol, surprised him at his Portland, Oregon home with a $10,000 prize which he won through pch.com. According to Sayer, company records indicate that Zimmerman has responded to Publishers Clearing House mailings for many years, sometimes ordering a magazine or merchandise, sometimes not. But over the last year and a half he became an almost daily entrant to the sweepstakes via the website. Clearly it paid off. It also paid off for Betsy Tanabe of State College, PA. "I'm sure glad I got that new computer," she said celebrating her $1,000,000 win with family and friends last summer after getting the shock of a lifetime. The excitement was heightened when the Prize Patrol also delivered a new Ford Thunderbird, a bonus for entering the sweepstakes online. (While the winner's test drive was "wonderful," she chose a $42,500 cash option instead.) In November, 20-ish Chassidy Madden of Kentucky won the company's third million dollar prize of 2005 and its second pch.com million. Her speechless reaction was featured in commercials that appeared in NBC's coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and in a national campaign in January. Entering online, Tanabe and Madden clearly threw themselves into competition with thousands of offline entrants who respond to the mailings that are sent throughout the year to the company's extensive mailing list. Sayer says that while in earlier years over two-thirds of the people he surprised were women, mostly middle aged, more younger men seem to be winning lately. George Young of Iowa hooted with delight after initially blurting an expletive that can't be part of a TV commercial. "Ohhh man!! Yeah, yeah, yeah!!" he repeated as fellow factory workers watched a $10,000 award ceremony the likes of which they had never seen. Marty Kelly of Pennsylvania was less verbal than Young, but was equally moved. The Prize Patrol accompanied him to his wife Lisa's workplace where news of the $10,000 win brought her to tears. She is expecting their third child this summer and now looks forward to some maternity leave which she could not have afforded before. "These guys gave us some great 'Publishers Clearing House moments' that will go into our long-running 'reality TV' campaign of cheers and tears," said Sayer. "Our commercials are totally unstaged and unrehearsed and underscore the legitimacy that applies to our whole sweepstakes -- which has awarded nearly $200 million in prizes since 1967" he added. Publishers Clearing House sees "hits" to its website increase dramatically when its "winning moment" commercials are on the air. So PCH management anticipates higher pch.com traffic in July when the next campaign promotes a $1 million prize to be awarded in August. Like most companies, Publishers Clearing House recognizes the growing importance of the internet and is putting increased resources into it. Besides sweepstake entry opportunities, pch.com provides web surfers with shopping opportunities for magazines and merchandise plus a broad array of company information. "Direct mail put Publishers Clearing House on the map, and we know that millions of consumers will continue to respond to our value and excitement- packed bulletins," said Andy Goldberg, president of PCH. "But pch.com also provides value and excitement plus entertaining games, profiles of our sweepstakes winners and more. We are adding lots more contests so that web surfers of all ages will find new ways to win, and we're adding value-priced offers based on the specific interests of our customers," he said.
SOURCE Publishers Clearing House