No Purchase Necessary: When Sweepstakes Were Groovy

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When everyone gets themselves worked up in a Powerball frenzy, I tend to think about sweepstakes and how much cooler they seemed back in the day. I occasionally enter an online giveaway and have noticed that they don't just seem as unique as ones from previous decades (and some magazines, like Shape, have become cheap skates and aren't even offering giveaways anymore.) I mean, who wouldn't want to win a baby blue Mustang, or the chance to fly on Hugh Hefner's jet, or a walk-on cameo on Laugh-In? Today's sweepstakes rules also make you do so much work sometimes to have to upload a photo with a hashtag to Instagram, or make a video showing why you should be chosen as the winner.

Just give me an old fashioned entry form to fill out with a ballpoint pen. Here's a look at some of the prizes you could have had a chance at scoring from the '60s or '70s.

For me, it doesn't get any cooler than this...a Volkswagen that looks like Peter Max designed it. Five lucky winners got a custom designed Bug...I wonder if any of them are in existence today? I was surprised to learn that Ultra Brite toothpaste still exists.

Yardley's giving away an exciting role in a new TV show filmed in London. Hmmm...Benny Hill?

Catch a Mustang, catch a man.

It's now been over 50 years since Batman premiered on television. $50,000—and even $1,000—were pretty generous cash amounts for 1966. But perhaps the coolest prize listed here? The "official" Batman equipment package including a hood, cape and utility belt. No word on whether it was meant for kids or their parents.

Really, Nabisco? The best you could do was Neil Sedaka and The Marshall Tucker Band? OK, maybe this doesn't belong in a post of "cool" contests to enter. No offense to fans of these guys, but I'd rather win a lifetime supply of Junior Mints.

I'd temporarily take up smoking for the chance to win a pair of these cars.

"No jingles to write, no boxtops to mail." I love that Wheaties kept it simple!

You bet your sweet bippy that this is definitely the most unique sweepstakes shown here, as the first prize was your own franchise of a Laugh-In restaurant, something I wrote about a few years ago. The second prize sounds swell -- a walk-on appearance on Laugh-In. Sadly, after that the prize quality goes down...a statue of the Fickle Finger of Fate and the Laugh-In record album.

Hefner made headlines when he put his Playboy mansion on the market a few years ago...but I wonder what became of the Big Bunny Jet?

Don't snicker -- this was a technological wonder at the time. The second prize isn't too shabby. You get a collection of cassettes to play including albums by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and The Mamas and the Papas.

Good luck to you Powerball players!


  1. These are so awesome!!! As a certified Bat-freak I was surprised at that Batman sweepstakes--I've never seen that before! But all of these were just great, thanks Pam! Go Retro is better than ever :)

    1. Thanks, Doug...and I wish I could still enter to win that VW!

  2. Gosh, I vaguely remember these things - and entering some. They seemed so much more cool than the "powerball" stuff of today. And BTW, I want that VW too!!

  3. Gosh, I vaguely remember these things - and entering some. They seemed so much more cool than the "powerball" stuff of today. And BTW, I want that VW too!!

  4. Ever since you wrote about that "Laugh-In" restaurant a few years ago I have looked for some actual photos of one of them on occasion...any one of them...and haven't found anything. I've read a few commenters who said they'd been to one (two in Florida and one in Michigan) and one who worked at one. A french fry bag and a napkin from one of them turned up on eBay once. They had the yellow raincoated man on the tricycle pictured on them. I'd sure like to see a photo, though! Interior and exterior! The drawing in this ad is the closest I've seen! Thanks!


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