Could Big Brother’s ‘No outsiders’ rule excuse no independent prize draw observer and did The Winners Club give an alternative free entry route enough prominence?


Who: Nestlé UK, Channel 4/Endemol and The Winners Club
Where: The Advertising Standards Authority
When: August/September 2006

What happened:
Two allegedly defective prize draw promotions came before the Advertising Standards Authority.

In the first case, it was a direct mailing by The Winners Club Ltd (“TWC”) of City Road, London that was in issue. One of the complaints was that the alternative postal free entry route to the one using a premium rate telephone number was not given sufficient prominence.

TWC said in defence that that they had received many entries by post and that the route was identified on the front page of the mailing, after the instructions for how to claim a prize by ending a text. It was also presented in bold print in the “Summary of Rules” section on the reverse of the mailing.

Free entry route buried in wrong section?

The ASA noted that there was a free entry route, but felt that putting the reference to it in the same section as instructions as to how to claim a prize by mobile phone meant it was likely to be overlooked by people who had no interest in claiming by mobile phone. This, together with the prominence given to the premum rate telephone entry route, could lead readers into believing there was no postal entry route.

So this complaint was upheld and TWC advised to in future separate the mobile phone claim information from the free entry route disclosure.

Big Brother prize draw

Nestlé, Channel 4 and Big Brother producers Endemol organised a prize draw for the chance to become a Big Brother housemate.

One of the ensuing complaints was that although it was watched live by five million viewers, the draw had not been made under the supervision of an independent observer, as required by paragraph 35.7 of the CAP Code.

The winner was selected by the Big Brother housemates, live during the show, from spinning numbered balls. An independent observer was present when the balls were loaded into the machine that span them and a different independent observer watched the draw on TV. However it had not been possible for an independent observer to be physically present at the draw itself because of the long established rule of the show which did not permit outsiders to come into contact with the Big Brother housemates.

The ASA verdict was that established no outsider rule or not, not having an independent observer physically present at the draw itself was a breach of the Code.

Why this matters:

For obvious reasons, promoters are often unenthusiastic about giving too much prominence to alternative free entry routes. The TWC case will underline the need to give the AMOE suitable prominence, thus helping the promoter comply with the “genuine, realistic and unlimited” requirement for free entry routes that must be observed to avoid running a risk of a mainly pay to enter mechanic being an illegal lottery.

The Big Brother verdict shows that the ASA will permit no exception to the rule that for random draws, an independent observer must be physically present. UK prize promoters everywhere please note!

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