On 1st November 2023, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published an upheld ruling against THG Nutrition's (trading as My Protein) TikTok prize promotion campaign. This ruling carries valuable lessons for nutrition brands, prize promotions and TikTok advertisers alike. Grab your protein shakes and let's dive in!
The prize promotion
This is not the first time that MyProtein has found itself in hot water with the ASA. On this occasion, the issue relates to a TikTok post seen on 14th January 2023. The post featured a speaker who introduced a competition relating to fitness-centred new year resolutions. It encouraged TikTok users to post videos of themselves engaging in a physical activity for “a chance to win big" by having to "capture your journey using our filter". The speaker reminded users to "…tag MyProtein" to be in with a chance of winning some "amazing prizes." These prizes included a luxury yoga retreat in Morocco, Mirafit flat weight equipment and an Apple watch.
The ASA launched an investigation following a complaint from a member of the public who doubted the prizes were awarded and challenged whether the promotion breached the CAP code. The complainant's suspicions had been aroused because he had asked MyProtein for a list of winners and was not provided with one.
The ASA added its own further challenge to the investigation, questioning whether the ad promoting the prize draw breached the CAP Code because it failed to include some significant conditions.
MyProtein said that there were three prize bundles available and their intention was for one winner to be selected for each category.
MyProtein understood that they were solely obliged to publish and make available information indicating that a valid award took place. MyProtein provided a TikTok handle for one winner, but it did not award the two other prizes because there were no valid entries that complied with the full terms of the promotion. There were no valid entries, because (1) TikTok post omitted certain conditions, and (2) neither the post nor competition terms on the website set out the full eligibility criteria. To remedy this hiccup, MyProtein reviewed the entrants and allocated a winner based on the criteria in the specified (incomplete) terms.
“Add more weight!”, says the ASA
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ASA considered both the TikTok post and the prize draw itself to be in breach of the CAP Code. Both complaints were ruled to be in breach of CAP Code rules on Promotional marketing and Prize promotions.
Despite the entry criteria not being clearly set out, the ASA ruled that it was not justified for MyProtein not to award the remaining two prizes. As such, MyProtein did not act fairly with participants and caused unnecessary disappointment.
The ASA considered the TikTok post as misleading, because MyProtein failed to include significant information which it considered likely to influence consumers, as well as information about how winners from each category would be selected. The post was not sufficiently limited by time or space to justify the omission, and as such, the post was likely to mislead participants.
If you are organising a prize draw, you must act fairly, honourably and avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. Prizes can only be withdrawn if participants had not met the qualifying criteria clearly set out in the rules of the promotion. This is where MyProtein fell short. Communications limited by time or space must include as much information as practicable, and direct consumers to a source where full terms can be present.
Promoters must either publish or make available information that indicates that a valid award took place – ordinarily the surname and county of major prizewinners and, if applicable, their winning entries.