Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Bellatricks Limited (trading as Get the Gloss), Hughes TV and Audio Limited (Hughes) and Prettylittlething.com Limited (PLT).
When: 1 September 2021
Law stated as at: 8 September 2021
The ASA upheld complaints against three social media promotions in one week, all on the basis that the promotions had been unfairly administered.
The CAP Code requires promoters of prize draws to:
- ensure that prizes were awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and, unless winners were selected by a computer process that produced verifiably random results, this was done by an independent person, or under the supervision of an independent person;
- provide entrants with all applicable significant conditions where omission of such conditions could mislead entrants; and
- conduct promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters were required to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.
What happened in the rulings?
Get The Gloss
- Get The Gloss ran a promotion on Instagram and offered an additional entry to those that shared the promotional post through Instagram Stories. A complainant challenged whether the promotion had been fairly administered as it was not possible to track additional entries on Instagram Stories.
- The ASA found that Get The Gloss did not count shares on Instagram Stories as an additional entry so entrants had been misled. In addition, the ASA discovered that Get The Gloss was not administering the promotion using a computer process that produced verifiably random results and the winner was not chosen by an independent person.
- Key takeaway: Promoters must choose a winner using a computer process or an independent person and ensure that any bonus entries are included when selecting a winner.
- Hughes ran a promotion to win a washing machine on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which each had different entry mechanisms. A complainant challenged whether the promotion was administered fairly as it was not possible to combine all entries across three platforms into one draw.
- In response to the complaint, Hughes detailed that it assigned each platform a number and used a random number generator to choose the winning platform. Each entry from that platform was then assigned a number and a random number generator chose the winner. The ASA was satisfied that this process produced verifiably random results. However, none of the promotional posts flagged the different methods of entry on other platforms and, given Hughes’s method of choosing the platform before choosing the winner, the ASA felt that this was important information for entrants to make an informed choice about how, and how many times, to enter into the promotion.
- Key takeaway: Promoters must make available key information that may affect an entrant’s decision-making around entering the promotion.
- PLT ran a prize promotion that required entrants to: double tap (to like) the post; save the post; tag a friend; comment with a heart emoji on any post; and follow PLT’s Instagram account. A bonus entry was available to those that shared the promotion on their Instagram Stories. A complainant challenged whether the promotion was administered fairly as it was not possible for PLT to track whether the entrant had fulfilled the entry conditions.
- PLT responded that it used an independent third party that could download a range of data from Instagram posts and a computer mechanism to produce verifiable random results and select a winner. PLT stated that it then took additional steps to manually check that the entry requirements had been fulfilled, for example, by asking the winner to provide evidence. The ASA held that it was unclear what data was available to PLT from the third party and it was important that PLT was able to independently verify that the conditions for entry were met without requesting that information from an entrant. In addition, the ASA understood that winners were chosen based on comments so those posting on their Instagram Stories were not given an additional entry.
- Key takeaway: Promoters must ensure that they can independently verify that an entrant has fulfilled entry requirements.
Why this matters:
Social media promotions are all the rage and a great tool to increase brand awareness on social media. However, these recent rulings show that the CAP Code still applies and promoters must be able to evidence that their prize promotions are fairly administered. In addition, promoters should not offer bonus entries when entrants share a post in their Instagram Stories if this does not actually give the entrants additional entries.