Nestlé in hot water with the ASA over Nescafé promotion
Last week the ASA upheld a ruling for a Nescafé on-pack promotion that exaggerated the chances of winning 100 magazine subscriptions being given away daily. Nestlé, Nescafé’s owner, argued that they had used a ‘Winning Moments’ algorithm to allocate the prizes but what does that mean and is it really misleading to consumers?
During the 2019 on-pack promotion, special packs of Nescafé Gold instant coffee were printed with the statement “WIN A MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION. 100 AVAILABLE TO BE WON EVERY DAY*” Smaller text at the bottom of the back of the pack stated that there were “…4200 prizes available to be won in total. 100 winning moments available per day, each as 30 seconds slots only when the prize available. These winning moments have been randomly allocated each day for 42 days”. The Advertising Standards Authority received complaints that the promotion was not being conducted fairly and so they investigated further. Their review revealed that although the copy on the pack did include an explanation of how the promotion worked, the details about Winning Moments selection were hidden away at the bottom of the back, two steps away from the headline claim at the top of the pack.
How was the campaign meant to run?
Nestlé used a variant on the ‘Winning Moments’ mechanic and this was the cause of the problem. They picked 100 precise moments for each of the days that the campaign was running meaning a consumer would win the prize if, and only if, they entered within 30 seconds of one of these pre-determined but secret moments.
The usual way of running Winning Moments is that you are a winner if you enter ‘on or first after’ one of the Winning Moment’s, but that could be a minute after or an hour or more, as long as you were the first.
Despite Nestlé’s argument that the odds of winning under their much more precise mechanic were still generous at 28 to 1, the ASA found that only 10% of the stated prizes were actually won and on some days it was much lower. They therefore stated that they “…considered that the ad exaggerated consumers’ chances of winning prizes and concluded that it breached the (CAP) Code”.
Are Winning Moments promotions fair?
At PromoVeritas we like to create as many happy winners as possible and recommend that brands giveaway all of the advertised prizes to avoid disappointing the public. The usual Winning Moments mechanic is an ideal way of doing this – you set the times, and as long as you get a reasonable number of entrants, you are highly likely to give away all the prizes. And even if there are no entries between two winning moments, you can simply roll over the unclaimed prize, either to the next winning moment, adding in a new winning moment or putting all the ‘un-won’ prizes into a wrap up draw at the very end of a promotion.
The specific variation run by Nestlé, with the need to enter so precisely around a Winning Moment, had already been the subject of an adverse ASA ruling against McCain Chips (11 July 2018 Great British Raffle). But it remains popular especially where the prize fund is either Fixed Fee’d or covered by an insurance plan. But we disagree and advise all of our clients to avoid this mechanic and just use the regular, first on or after Winning Moments – with appropriate independent supervision , of course !