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Circuit City Pulls 100,000 Votes in Firefighter Contest

By May 24, 2007

Circuit City presented a check yesterday to the winner of its Firedog Across America contest, for an unorthodox amount: $141,402.

The contest asked consumers to submit an essay about their favorite fire department. Circuit City chose 10 fire stations as finalists from among the 5,082 entries, and posted the essays online to let consumers vote.

Voters not only picked the winner, they helped set the amount of the cash prize: Circuit City put $1 for every vote into a shared prize pool. The contest drew 100,669 votes, triggering $100,669 in additional prizes for the 10 fire station finalists.

Yesterday Circuit City gave its top winner a $100,000 grand prize, another $20,000 for being a finalist, and then $21,402 from the voting pool.

The winning fire station, the Chickahominy Volunteer Fire Department Station 10 in Ashland, VA, was nominated by a local resident for inviting her son, who has Down syndrome, to join the squad. He has worked with the firefighters for seven years, helping maintain the trucks and hoses and dressing up as Santa for the fire department’s annual Christmas parade.

The nine other finalists each get $20,000 and a portion of the pool. The individuals who nominated the 10 finalists each get a $10,000 tech makeover for their homes. The 10 finalists’ stories will be posted at Firedog.com through June.

Circuit City was geared up to field more votes: It capped its $1-per-vote contribution at $250,000.

“We just did not know how many votes we’d get,” said Circuit City spokesperson Jim Babb. “We were very pleased with the results. The voter turnout was due in part to the great community mobilization from the fire departments themselves.”

Circuit City used the six-month contest to promote Firedog, the chain’s own technology repair service for computers, home theater and digital gadgets. The service, launched in September 2006, competes with rival Best Buy’s Geek Squad. Firedog works through service departments in Circuit City’s 600 stores, via phone and online.

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