Poorly run promotions are high on the ASA's agenda.
The ASA has ruled against a total of 3 separate promotions this week.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on Prettylittlething.com and Hughes TV and Audio. Click here for my colleague Geraint Lloyd-Taylor’s article about the third of this weeks rulings involving Get the Gloss.
These rulings come hot on the heels of the Briley Powell ruling last week. You can read my colleague Alex Meloy's article on the Briley Powell ruling here.
Hughes TV and Audio
Hughes TV and Audio posted about their promotion on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages. Their captions differed slightly per each social media account – they asked consumers to follow their Instagram page, or to like their Facebook page or to follow their Twitter page. Each caption referred to the chance to win a Beko AquaTech Washing Machine and included the same image.
One complainant believed all three ads referred to the same promotion. They queried whether it was even possible to combine all entrants into one single draw, therefore questioning whether the promotion was administered fairly.
Hughes TV and Audio responded detailing their processes. Essentially, they posted to each social media account on specific days. Each platform was then assigned a number, and Hughes used a random number generator to firstly select a platform randomly. If for example Instagram was picked, Hughes would then log into their Instagram account, view the entries and give each one a number. They would then use a random number generator again to select a winning entry.
The CAP Code requires promoters of prize draws to ensure that prizes are awarded in accordance with the laws of chance. This would need to be done by either a computer process that produced verifiably random results, or by/or under the supervision of an independent third party. The complaint queried if entries from all three social media platforms could be collated into one to pick a winner. The ASA was not concerned by the system Hughes had put in place to pick a winner. However, it was concerned that they had failed to mention this in any of their social media captions. The CAP Code requires promoters to communicate all significant conditions or information where their omission would be likely to mislead in their comms. Each of the ads cross-promoted the same promotion. However, it failed to mention the multiple ways within which consumers could enter or the method within which the winner would be chosen. The ASA felt that the method resulted in different consumers having different chances of winning. Had this been included, it would have been likely to significantly influence consumers’ understanding of the promotion and ensure they were able to make an informed choice as to how, and how many times, they could enter.
An Instagram post by PLT asked consumers to “double tap & save this post, tag your best galentines, comment [heart emoji] on ANY post and for a bonus, share on your story.” Entrants needed to be following @prettylittlething to enter.
The complainant challenged whether the promotion was administered fairly as they believed it was not possible for the promoter to track who had fulfilled the promotion’s entry conditions.
PLT responded stating that they had used an independent third-party website to download a range of data from Instagram, including likes, comments and hashtags relating to the prize draw. They added that they took additional steps to check the eligibility of the winner, by manually checking all entry requirements before confirming them as winner.
Whilst the ASA understood PLT had used a third party website, it remained unclear exactly what data had been downloaded. The ASA understood that certain requirements – i.e. who had saved the post or who had commented a heart emoji under any post – were not possible to download. They acknowledged PLT had requested the winner to show they had completed these actions. However, under the CAP Code the promoter would have needed to independently verify that the conditions for entry were met without requesting that info from the entrant themselves.
The ASA ascertained that despite PLT encouraging entrants to post to their story for a bonus entry, they were unable to draw this data in a way that could verify whether that post had been shared before the draw was made. These entrants therefore did not receive a second entry. Furthermore, those with a private account would have not had their additional post seen by PLT. The ASA therefore considered that those who had met the criteria for a bonus entry would not increase their chances of winning the prize by doing so.
It is more important than ever to plan and run promotions properly.
When running a promotion, it is important to follow the CAP Code in its entirety, but more specifically, Rule 8.
Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently. They must deal with both entrants and potential entrants in a fair and honourable way and must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. Part of this is making sure all those who seek to enter are made clear of all the necessary significant conditions wherever the promotion is advertised. Significant conditions are those where the omission of such would be likely to mislead. Promoters must also ensure the entry requirements for their promotions are achievable and quantifiable – it is not appropriate to ask consumers to complete steps to enter which a promoter cannot check.
The CAP Code also required that marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information was likely to mislead.