Who: Rebecca Garrett Media Ltd t/a Winning Moments
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
When: 16 December 2015
Law stated as at: 5 January 2016
The “Winning Moments” website ran a competition between 1 and 31 August 2015 with a prize of tickets for a theatre-themed hen party (the “Competition”). The Competition attracted a complaint over whether the winner had been picked by an independent judge or a panel that included an independent member. The complaint was based on an assumption that the winner had been chosen in-house.
The ASA investigated whether the Competition breached CAP Code Rule 8.2 (promoters must carry out promotions equitably), Rule 8.14 (promoters must carry out promotions with suitable supervision) and Rule 8.26 (promoters must appoint an independent judge or one of a panel of judges must be demonstrably independent if the competition is open to a subjective element). The CAP Sales Promotion and Direct Response Panel considers that anything beyond merely filtering of entrants based on an entry criteria should not be carried out in-house.
Winning Moments website operator Robert Garrett Media presented the ASA with documents illustrating that a third party organisation had been involved in the judging of the competition. These documents included a contract with the third party for judging services and their invoice.
On this basis, the ASA concluded that the competition had not breached the Code. They found that Rebecca Garret Media had not used its employees to select the winners but instead had used an independent organisation on the proper basis.
Why this matters:
This adjudication illustrates the importance of using independent judges to decide winners of a competition which includes a skill element. Unsuccessful competition entrants are likely to grasp hold of any indication that a competition has not been administered in accordance with the terms of the CAP Code to make a complaint.
It also reinforces the fact that paying a fee to the person or company acting as a judge for a competition does not compromise their independence.
This adjudication also underlines the position in CAP’s advice note on independent judges that independent judges are required to ensure that a competition is administered fairly. If a promoter can show evidence of using an independent judge, as in this case, then they are in a stronger position if the ASA investigates the promotion. This is in contrast to the Rebecca Penny t/a Bridleworks adjudication from January 2015 where the ASA found against the promoter largely due to the fact that the ASA had not seen evidence of an independent panel of judges.