Who: Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) and Clarson Ltd
Where: United Kingdom
When: 12 October 2022
Law stated as at: 9 November 2022
Ex-Love Island contestant and influencer Tyne-Lexy Clarson took to her social media stories in January 2022 to advertise an upcoming live draw by her business Clarson Ltd (formely t/a Raffleaid). The ASA challenged whether: the ads irresponsibly exaggerated consumers’ chances of winning, misled regarding the option of a free entry route, and the name “Raffleaid” and references to charitable donations complied with the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code).
Exaggerating consumers’ chances of winning
In the social media stories in question, Clarson had explained that there were “thousands” of tickets unsold in the draw and stated “…your chances of winning are incredible … incredible, incredible odds”. The superimposed text included “HUGE CHANCE OF WINNING TONIGHT,” “INSANE ODDS TONIGHT” and “SUPER LOW ODDS”. A post on the Raffleaid social media account also featured a caption referencing the “Insane odds”. The ASA upheld its challenge on the basis that these elements were likely to give consumers the impression that their chances of winning the promotion were very high. It considered that, because the winning entry would still be picked out of several thousand, in reality the odds were very low.
The ASA acknowledged Clarson Ltd’s response that it believed the social media ads gave factual information about the proportion of tickets sold and that some consumers (with a grasp of the mechanics of Raffleaid promotions) would understand this as an indication of how the present odds compared with those of other Raffleaid draws. It considered that the information, if presented in a neutral tone, would not breach the CAP Code but ultimately concluded that this fact was insufficient to counter the impression given by the claims made.
Another social media post by Raffleaid listing 10 individuals as “FREE TICKET WINNERS” was ruled to be misleading. The image included “CONGRATULATIONS” in large text and the caption stated “Free ticket winners! Well done…”. The ASA deemed it in breach of the CAP Code in its failure to communicate all significant conditions or information where their omission would be likely to mislead. This is because there was a separate, standard free entry route (available to all potential entrants) which the post did not mention. The information about the standard free-entry route was significant and should have been explained prominently and clearly. Despite Clarson Ltd’s response that the free ticket giveaway was distinct to the free entry route, the ASA considered that the distinction would not be clear to consumers and therefore the post implied that a ticket purchase was required. Compounding this was the congratulatory wording, which the ASA regarded as reinforcing the impression that free entry to the draw had been awarded as a prize to those listed in the post.
The use of the name “Raffleaid” was held to be misleading. The Raffleaid website referenced the charitable donations it made “as and when” it could to Meningitis Now and featured images of Clarson holding large cheques to the charity. Upholding its challenge, the ASA noted that the word “aid” is often included in the names and events of charities and “raffle” is often applied to prize draws held to support charitable causes.
The promotion’s name gave the false impression that it was run with the primary purpose of charitable fundraising. This was not the case – Raffleaid profited from its promotions and charitable fundraising was not its primary purpose. Furthermore, Raffleaid did not provide the ASA with a copy of its formal agreement with Meningitis Now, and its ads omitted to specify what would be gained by the charity, the basis on which the contributions would be calculated and the total amount it would receive, in contravention of the CAP Code rules on charity-linked promotions.
Why this matters:
There are three important lessons here:
- Don’t exaggerate consumers’ chances of winning. Consider the impact that marketing will have on consumers who have no prior knowledge of your product/service
- Make sure free entry routes are always referenced prominently in line with the CAP Code
- If your purpose is not primarily charitable, ensure that the CAP Code rules on charitable giving are not inadvertently invoked through descriptions, or even brand names, which may imply a charitable cause