Influencer Molly-Mae Hague botches Instagram Prize Draw
This week social media was flooded with angry fans of Molly-Mae Hague who suggested that she had fixed a prize draw worth £8,000. Our Legal Executive, Petronella Connett, looks at where her extensive influence went wrong.
Molly-Mae, who shot to fame as a runner-up on ITV’s Love Island in 2019, is a popular influencer with 4.8 million followers on Instagram and over 1.3m on YouTube where she promotes brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Beauty Works, as well as her own tanning range.
Several weeks ago, she launched a ‘giveaway’ promotion offering fans the chance to win £8,000 worth of Louis Vuitton and Apple items as well as a year’s supply of her own beauty products. The problems began yesterday when she announced the winner via her Instagram stories and admitted that her management had been baffled about how to select a winner fairly. The promotion boasted over three million comments and 1.1 million likes and before she picked a winner, Molly-Mae explained that the ‘fairest way’ to choose a winner was to select just 25 names from all the entries, add them to a spreadsheet and then select one winner at random.
Detractors soon took to Twitter with furious comments accusing her of fixing the promotion and mocking her attempts at fairness. She later responded, “There was no software or app that would allow me to put in two million (I repeat) two million Instagram comments without logging in with my Insta password which I would never do.” She also added “Let’s just all be happy for the winner please. It’s only a light-hearted giveaway…”
The truth is that no matter how light-hearted and fun a promotion is, there are rules and laws in place to protect the public from being misled. Section 8 of the CAP Code clearly states that a prize draw must be conducted properly and that prizes are awarded in accordance with the laws of chance under the supervision of an independent person. Using independent verification experts like PromoVeritas to extract all of the millions of entries from Instagram (it can be done easily; it just needs planning), and then selecting a random winner from all the data is the only fair way to run a prize draw. Another big mistake Molly-Mae made was not having a set of Terms & Conditions in her Instagram post to clarify key elements of the promotion such as the entry dates and times, how to enter and any restrictions such as age, location, or number of entries. Other information should have also been specified including a description of the prize, how the winner will be contacted and the winner selection process. Terms & Conditions are another requirement of the CAP Code and are a vital to part of any compliant promotion.
This is the latest in a long line of Influencer mistakes that cause the public to be suspicious and government departments like the Competition & Markets Authority to start tightening their rules on social media endorsements too. Had Molly-Mae’s management come to PromoVeritas it would have been clear that a promotion of this magnitude requires expertise to handle it correctly in order to avoid fake entries and negative publicity.