Prize promotions need prizes!
If you are an influencer running a competition, how careful do you need to be when establishing entry criteria and awarding prizes?
The key takeaway
Ignorance of the rules governing promotions is no excuse. Just because an influencer is an individual doesn’t mean that they do not have to be mindful of the relevant rules and regulations. Additionally, careful thought and specificity of entry requirements (eg must be a follower of the account at the time of the prize draw on X date) is very important and applicable to all competitions regardless of size.
An Instagram post from influencer Briley Powell featured the text “£250 PLT VOUCHER! PLUS Filter by Molly-Mae Tanning Kit Beauty Works Professional Styler The White Company Seychelles Set @BRILEYPOWELL”. Below that, the post went onto to state “WIN £250 TO SPEND ON PRETTY LITTLE THING + THIS BUNDLE Give away includes £250 PLT Voucher Filter by Molly-Mae FULL tanning kit Beauty Works Professional Styler The White Company Seychelles Set OPEN INTERNATIONALLY TO WIN: Like this post Tag your bestie Share to your story (tag me) Both must be following @brileypowell Unlimited entries! The more you enter = the more chances of winning Winner announced on VALENTINE’S DAY (A MONTH TODAY) I had planned this giveaway to celebrate reaching 25K which seems a lifetime away so thought why not treat a lucky lady (or lad?!) for vday instead! GOOD LUCK ALLLL”
The CAP code provides that “Promoters must award the prizes as described in their marketing communications or reasonable equivalents, normally within 30 days” (rule 15.1) and that “withholding prizes is justified only if participants have no met the qualifying criteria set out clearly in the rules of the promotion” (rule 8.27).
Following the close of the competition, the ASA received a complaint from an entrant of Ms Powell’s competition who had been notified that they had won the prize drawn but had not received the prizes. Ms Powell said she was not aware of the requirements associated with running a giveaway and had only done so to thank her followers for their support. She stated that she posted the other prizes (except the voucher) but did not have tracking information. She further argued that the complainant had breached the rules of the giveaway by not being a follower which was a condition of entry and claimed that the complainant used spam accounts to find and participate in competitions and therefore withheld the voucher.
The CAP code states that promoters are required to award the prizes as described in their marketing communications within 30 days. While the ad did specify how to enter and when the winner would be drawn, it did not state by which date the prizes would be awarded, which means in any case they should have been awarded within 30 days of the closing date of the competition. The ASA noted that while Ms Powell did send 3 of the prizes, it was her responsibility to ensure there was sufficient procedures in place to be able to show that the prizes had been sent. Furthermore, the code sets out that prizes may be withheld if a participant had not met the criteria set out in the rules of the promotion. Ms Powell stated that she withheld the voucher described in the post because the winner had not followed the Instagram page @brileypowell which was a requirement of the prize draw. However, Ms Powell was unable to explain how the complainant had been selected as the winner if they had not complied with the entry criteria.
The ASA understood the prize winner could have been following the Instagram page at the time of the prize draw entry and winner selection but have unfollowed the page by the time Ms Powell reviewed the entry. However, there was no requirement that entrants had to continue following the social media page after the competition closing date. The ASA therefore considered that Ms Powell had not demonstrated that the winner had not complied with the prize draw entry requirements and that there was a justifiable reason for withholding one of the prizes. Consequently, the ASA upheld the complaint and found that there was no evidence the prizes had been awarded nor that there was a justifiable reason to withhold a prize.
Why is this important?
This ruling confirms the ASA’s zero tolerance approach to letting influencers off the hook, simply because they are often individuals. It also shows the importance of ensuring clear and specific entry requirements as well as ensuring that prizes are sent out in a secure manner. This case not only shows the importance of adherence of the advertising rule for influencers, but also serves as a reminder of the need to ensure compliance for the brands who work with them.
Any practical tips?
When working with influencers, particularly when arranging a product giveaway or similar promotion, it is important to ensure that the influencer fully understands the rules in place to ensure that any promotion is run in accordance with the CAP Code and that there is an adequate level of supervision. A lack of knowledge or ignorance of the rules is no excuse.