Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Inside Lifestyle Group Ltd t/a Inside Lifestyle and Jack Fincham
Where: United Kingdom
When: 19 February 2020
Law stated as at: 4 March 2020
Inside Lifestyle, a bespoke travel company, and reality TV star Jack Fincham each posted an advert on Instagram for a luxury holiday giveaway to Dubai worth £15,000. To enter, the post invited people to follow @inside.lifestyle and ‘like’ the post, and stated that the winner would be announced on 30 September 2019.
The ASA received a complaint challenging the fairness of the promotion on the basis that no closing date was specified, no terms and conditions were accessible, and no winner was announced.
In response, Inside Lifestyle provided video evidence to show that a winner had been chosen and announced, and stated that the closing date had been extended to 1 November 2019 due to the huge number of applications received (over 30,000). It further said that the extended closing date was shown across all of their social media stories and that full terms and conditions were available on their website.
The ASA upheld the complaint. Whilst it accepted that a winner had been announced and the prize given away, the ASA found the posts to be in breach of various provisions of the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) Code. The most significant of these were in relation to closing dates and the lack of terms and conditions.
The CAP Code states that closing dates must not be changed unless necessitated by “unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter” and the change would either not disadvantage entrants participating within the original terms or it would be unfair to original entrants not to make the change. The ASA deemed that entrants would have understood the closing date to be 30 September 2019 or before. It found that Inside Lifestyle ought to have pre-empted how popular the campaign would be and that the change did not meet the “unavoidable” CAP Code threshold. The ASA also considered the date change would disadvantage customers who entered by the original closing date by reducing their chances of winning.
Under the CAP Code, adverts must include all significant terms and conditions. The Instagram ads were silent on this subject and did not say that terms and conditions could be found on Inside Lifestyle’s website. While the ads gave details of how to enter and what the prize would be, there was no information on entry restrictions, the procedure for selecting a winner, book-by dates, availability limitations, or any other conditions attached to the prize.
Why this matters:
This is one of the first ASA rulings we have seen relating to Instagram prize promotions. This important example highlights promoters’ responsibilities to be transparent and deal fairly with participants regardless of the medium chosen to promote the prize give-away. In particular, communications around promotions must contain all significant conditions that apply and must not be misleading.