“Duo Boots” imposed a 100 word limit on an essay competition but then decided to look at longer ones and gave first prize to a 109 word opus. But what’s a mere 9 words between friends? Omar Bucchioni reports on the ASA’s verdict on the ensuing complaint.
Topic: Promotion marketing
Who: ASA and Elitehill Trading Ltd t/a Duo Boots
Where: Advertising Standards Authority
Law stated as at: 25 February 2009
The ASA (Advertising Standard Authority) has recently considered a promotional email sent by Duo Boots for a competition whose subject heading stated: “Win a pair of DUOs every year for 3 years”. Text below stated ” … For your chance to win a pair of DUOs every year for the next 3 years, simply send us your favourite boot or shoe related story in no more than 100 words to our Facebook page …”.
The ASA investigated the email because a complainant who had entered the competition noticed that the winner’s entry had more than 100 words and challenged whether the competition had been properly administered.
Duo Boots’s argument
Elitehill Trading Ltd t/a Duo Boots put forward its line of argument:
a) the email did include a link to their website, which included Ts & Cs of the competition
b) the Ts & Cs stated “DUO reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition … at any time without prior notice”.
Duo Boots went on to explain that although the word limit was stated in the promotional e-mail and on the landing page, they were concerned that they had not communicated it clearly enough because several entrants had exceeded it.
After careful consideration, Duo Boots had therefore decided to treat the word limit as only a guideline because they believed most of the entrants had done so and their focus was on rewarding the best entry. Therefore they decided in favour of an entry which in their opinion was very much in the spirit of what the competition had tried to achieve despite it was only nine words over the limit.
Duo Boots said with hindsight they would not have had a word limit at all, to allow entrants more freedom to express themselves but they were confident that the competition was fairly administered and the best entries were chosen.
The ASA decision
The ASA upheld the complaint for the simple reason that the winning entry was nine words over the stated limit. The ASA highlighted that the CAP Code state “Promotions should … be seen to deal fairly and honourably with consumers”. They took the view that it was not acceptable to alter the conditions of entry and, in doing so, Duo Boots had not dealt fairly with all applicants or potential applicants, causing “unnecessary disappointment”.
Why this matters:
Promoters should pay particular attention to the Ts & Cs of promotions and avoid changes once a promotion is in progress. For more information on this please see: http://www.asa.org.uk/asa/adjudications/Public/TF_ADJ_45833.htm