The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that instant win promotions on Highland Spring water bottles and packets of McCain French Fries breached The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) because the chances of winning a prize were far lower than the promotional material suggested.
Highland Spring bottle labels stated that 10,000 “instant win” prizes could be won. Contestants had to enter their details, bottle batch code and time stamp on a website in order to be entered into the draw. To win, their details would have to match the “moment”, which was a one-second period randomly selected by a computer.
Highland Spring printed short terms and conditions on the back of the labels, but some consumers challenged them as misleading. The ASA found that although the labels stated that not all prizes would be won, there was no information on how the promotion worked or how likely it actually was for a consumer to win a prize.
A similar issue was considered in the McCain case. Unique, random codes were printed on a total of 53,317,540 promotional packs of French fries and a total prize fund of £3,000,000 was available to be won. This equated to 28,515 prizes or a 0.05% chance of winning. A total of 342,713 promotional pack codes were entered into the instant win promotion, and 159 were awarded prizes – i.e. only 0.56% of the available prizes. In addition, of the prizes won, most were in the lowest value range and only a few higher value prizes were available. The highest prizes were not won.
Both promotional campaigns were found to be misleading and caused unnecessary disappointment for consumers because the mechanisms of winning a prize were not properly explained. In addition, both were found to have created a significantly exaggerated impression of the likelihood of winning, and the brief statements about chances of success in the terms and conditions were not sufficient. The lesson is that companies must ensure that their promotional campaigns do not exaggerate consumers’ chances of winning and do not cause them unnecessary disappointment.
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