Daily Mail and Iceland told off over botched Marmite campaign
A recent Daily Mail in paper voucher promotion for a free jar of Marmite redeemable at Iceland stores received a lot of consumer complaints and an ASA Ruling. So, where did it all go wrong?
Last week the Daily Mail was found to be in breach of no less than 8 CAP Code rules. See Ruling for full details but in summary, the promoter failed to correctly estimate the likely demand or provide sufficient stock of Marmite to deal with consumer redemptions. As the ASA said; “Some complainants had found or understood that some stores had fewer than ten in stock or none at all…Iceland was not capable of meeting the likely demand for the product.”
Iceland showed evidence that they had over 10,000 jars of Marmite in stock across their stores, and that under 6,500 coupons were redeemed. The problem was that redemption was not evenly distributed across all stores – some stores received a higher number of vouchers than others and customers were left empty handed resulting in numerous complaints.
The Daily Mail had stated on their front page in capitals that the Marmite was “Subject to availability, while stocks last, today only” and repeated this inside the paper too. However, the ASA Ruling – and the law – makes it clear that a Promoter can only rely on this ‘get out clause’ if they can show that they had made a reasonable and documented estimate of likely demand and that the actual demand was significantly unusual and unpredictable. The Daily Mail admitted that “…unfortunately, due to the promotion being agreed and issued in a very tight timescale, the parties’ lawyers were not involved in checking the wording regarding the number of Marmite jars”.
At PromoVeritas we handle hundreds of promotions every month and we have the knowledge and passion gained from years of experience. So, what would we have done differently to ensure that the promotion would have been handled fairly and compliantly?
- Create a Forecast Document: To be based on previous experience and similar promotions. Ensure it is distributed to all stores so they know they need to be well stocked, and it could be used to as proof of planning.
- Over estimate: To avoid any disappointments it is always best to have extra products available.
- Make sure the stores are well resourced: It would be wise to have stores check their stock levels before launching the campaign.
- Quantify the amount: Your T&Cs should state the total number of items being offered.
- Have a Plan B: Avoid disappointing customers by offering them an alternative way to redeem the voucher at another local store, or issuing them with an IOU for use at a future date, or transferring stock between local stores. Anything that avoids disappointment.