Are your prize draws luring consumers into a false sense of security?
Recent ASA Rulings highlighted the very real issue of brands misleading consumers. We take a look at how to avoid this and be more aware of the risks of omitting vital information in promotions.
To put it simply, it’s not just about what you do say, it’s what you don’t say that counts, so whether it’s a £10 prize or a luxury holiday, brands need to be sure that they aren’t misleading consumers. For instance, to receive the £10 gift card the winner must first pay postage, or the ‘luxury holiday’ is really in a 2-star hotel without flights or spending money.
Fortunately, most promotions are run fairly from the offset all the way through to prize fulfilment leaving winners delighted however some companies do not pay attention to compliance leaving winners disappointed and damaging their brands’ reputation in the process.
- Suggesting a consumer may have already won, although the promotion may not announce the winners until a specific time during the promotional period.
- Exaggerating the value of the prize
- The Terms &Conditions of the promotion are not clearly worded
- Promoters cannot meet demand for prizes
The Times received this Ruling for an offer giving away “Two Legoland tickets for £10” to readers who collected 4 promotional codes. Complaints were made that The Times had quickly run out of the tickets and not made a reasonable estimate of the demand for the promotion, plus another complaint pointed outthat there was no closing date in the T&Cs. The lesson to be learned here is that ‘Subject to availability’ is not a valid disclaimer, and stating the number of tickets available and the closing date is simply a must.
The very same week Thomas Cook also recieved this Ruling for their #Flamingoroam promotion in partnership with 3 mobile giving away a £5000 voucher. The link to the T&Cs on their Twitter promotional post didn’t work and there were different closing dates on other social media platforms. Due to the 140 character limit Thomas Cook didn’t post summary terms in some of the social media posts and were relying on the link to the full T&Cs for entrants to determine when to enter by – but because it didn’t work some entrants were deemed to have been disadavantaged.
So what are the rules?
The ASA holds responsibility for ensuring promotions stick to the rules and follow the CAP Code in the UK. Section 8.17 of the Code covers ‘Significant conditions for promotions’. Some of these include:
- How to participate including any costs or conditions that may affect entrants’ ability or their decision to enter
- If there is a free route to entry
- Start and closing dates
- Any proof of purchase requirements
- Number of prizes available
- Restrictions such as age, location or need to access the internet
- Where there is only space for summary Terms & Conditions a link to full set of T&Cs should be available.
- Also remember that promotions must not suggest that a consumer has won, if they have not, or overstate the chance of winning.
Don’t forget it’s also the Law!
- The Consumer Protection Regulations (CPR) is part of EU Law and are 31 marketing practices that are banned outright. It bans misleading consumers and ‘significant omissions’. For instance, claiming to offer a competition or prize promotion without awarding the prizes described or a reasonable equivalent.