A recent ASA adjudication has emphasised the importance of ensuring that promotional marketing includes significant conditions – even if there isn’t a lot of space. 

The CAP Code states that promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions if their omission is likely to mislead. Significant conditions may, depending on the circumstances, include information about how to participate and a closing date. The Code also provides that marketing communications that include a promotion and which are significantly limited by space must include as much information about significant conditions as practicable. 

In August, Heinz Beanz featured an on-pack promotion. The text on the front of the tin stated “FREE DAYZ OUT WITH EVERY PACK”. On the back, it said “We could tell you that our Beanz are hard to beat […] Instead, we would like to offer you a day out on us […] Claim your voucher on dayout.heinz.co.uk T&Cs apply”. There was a QR code and text that stated “SCAN TO CLAIM YOUR REWARD HEINZ DAYZ OUT”.

The complainant challenged whether the ad omitted the significant conditions of the promotion.

Heinz said that the promotion offered consumers who purchased a relevant product the opportunity to apply for a variety of free events and activities. They said the promotional products were all sold within approximately two months of being placed on sale.

In addition, Heinz said the ad contained clear instructions on how to enter the promotion. As it was significantly limited by space, it directed consumers to an easily accessible alternative source which contained all significant terms and conditions. Scanning the quick-response code (QR code) or following the web address on-pack took consumers to a form for the events and activities. To submit the form, consumers had to tick a box confirming they had read the promotion’s terms and conditions. Consumers also had to enter a batch code from the bottom of the tin; but no proof of purchase was required. Heinz said the promotion’s significant terms and conditions were below the form and stated “UK, 18+. Opens 28 June 2023. Claim voucher by 31st October 2023. Use voucher by 31st December 2023, unless otherwise stated. One claim per product purchased. Maximum of two claims per person per day”. They said that due to limited space available on the ad it was appropriate to make the terms and conditions of the promotion available on the website.

The ASA’s decision

The ASA upheld the complaint. It understood that only consumers aged 18 years and over could participate in the promotion; promotional vouchers had to be claimed by 31 October 2023; only one claim could be made per product purchased; and that consumers could only make two claims per day each. It said that these were significant conditions which were likely to affect consumers’ understanding of the promotion and their decision to participate. Consequently, it considered that their omission was likely to mislead.

The ad did not include any of the above significant conditions of the promotion. The ASA considered the ad was not sufficiently limited by time or space to justify their omission. As a result, the ad breached the Code.

The ruling makes clear that if you are short on space, you still need to find a way to make sure that significant conditions of a promotion are communicated, such as closing date and eligibility criteria.

This is a common issue when running promotions and promoters should be aware that there is very little leeway when claiming that an ad is space-limited. Some assets will never be considered space-limited (e.g. the promoter’s website and emails) and the ASA will not consider an ad to be space-limited where the promoter has simply decided to use most of the available space for the marketing messages, as that’s just a matter of choice. And if you can’t find the space, then maybe it’s time to consider whether the media being used to promote the promotion is appropriate for that promotion?