ASA Non-broadcast Adjudication: Mediaprom Ltd
Silverbriar Business & Innovation Centre
Tyne & Wear
19 April 2006
Objection to a scratch card for a prize draw promotion. Text stated "SCRATCH & MATCH and win a share of £10,000 ... You can DEFINITELY claim one of these items BUT WHICH ONE?". The scratch card featured pictures of the items that could be claimed. The reverse of the card featured two grey scratch panels, one revealing matching symbols, the other listing items that could be claimed and their value. Text stated "HOW TO PLAY You are 100% guaranteed to claim 1 of the awards pictured overleaf. Scratch off the '1st Panel', reveal 3 identical symbols and you can claim a fantastic Sports Bracelet Watch. All you need to claim is a unique Verification Number available by following the details below ... Next, scratch off the '2nd Panel' to reveal a list of prizes worth nearly £3000. If you have revealed 3 identical symbols the symbol you have matched could have won you one of the prizes listed. If you didn't match 3 identical symbols, the symbols you have revealed have DEFINITELY won you one of the prizes listed." Further text stated "HOW TO CLAIM YOUR AWARD 1. You can telephone us on the claim line 0906 403 6277 2. Listen out for your symbols, if your symbols match one of the symbols we call out you are GUARANTEED one of the prizes in the Prize List. 3. You will find out which prize has been allocated to you 4. Next you will be given a Claim Verification Number ..." Text in the footnote stated "Call cost £1.50 per minute ... There is a small charge of £6.99 to cover postage and packing of awards ... ".
The complainant challenged:
1. the claim "win a share of £10,000" because £10,000 was not on offer, either as a single sum or a total of the listed prizes;
2. whether a free entry route was available, because participants had to obtain a claim verification number by phoning a premium rate line and
3. whether the scratch card implied that consumers were luckier than they were, by exaggerating the likelihood of them obtaining one of the major prizes.
4. The ASA challenged whether the price of postage and packing had been exaggerated to cover the cost of the item.
CAP Code (Edition 11)
1. Complaint upheld
Mediaprom said they printed 500,000 cards, nine of which were 'winning cards'. They told us the £10,000 on the Scratch & Match card was made up of the value of the awards in the scratch panel and the total number of Sports Bracelet Watches that could be claimed by holders of 'non-winning cards'. Mediaprom said, because each Sports Bracelet Watch was worth at least £20, the total award fund was worth millions. They told us they chose to quote an award fund of £10,000.
The ASA noted Mediaprom's comments. We considered that, because the watches were available to be claimed by all but the nine winning card holders, the watch was not a prize, and should have been distinguished clearly from the few prizes consumers had the opportunity to win. We considered that, because Mediaprom had included the watches in the calculation of the award fund, the scratchcard overstated both consumers' chances of winning a prize and the value of the prizes on offer. We told Mediaprom to distinguish clearly between gifts or awards available to many and prizes available to a few in future.
On this point, the promotion breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 35.1 (Prize promotions).
2. Complaint upheld
Mediaprom said participants were not obliged to call the premium rate number and their "HOW TO CLAIM YOUR AWARD" section, point 5, made clear that participants could enter the promotion by post. They explained that participants who chose this route would be sent a Claim Verification number. Mediaprom told us over 2000 participants had chosen the postal route.
We noted the availability of a postal entry route. However, because prominence had been given to the telephone entry route, coupled with text stating that any claim without a Claim Verification number was void, we concluded that consumers could be misled into believing that the telephone route was the only valid way to obtain a claim verification number and thus claim an award. We told Mediaprom to avoid the implication that a purchase in the form of a premium rate telephone call must be made in order to claim in future.
On this point, the promotion breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 34.1a (Significant conditions for promotions).
3. Complaint upheld
Mediaprom said, of the 500,000 cards produced, nine were winning cards which linked to each prize on the scratch panel. They told us the remaining cards had matching symbols that would allow the holder to claim the Sports Bracelet Watch. Mediaprom said the watch was clearly pictured along with the other prizes and therefore all participants would definitely have won one of the awards pictured.
The ASA considered that, because the watch was featured with pictures of the nine winning prizes, the promotion implied consumers who matched three symbols had won a prize. We noted the watch was awarded to almost all recipients who made a claim and concluded that the presentation of the mailing misleadingly implied consumers were luckier than they were. We told Mediaprom not to repeat the approach and advised them to consult the CAP Copy Advice team before running future promotions.
On this point, the promotion breached CAP Code clauses 7.1 (Truthfulness), 35.1 and 35.3 (Prize promotions).
Mediaprom said the Sports Bracelet watch was worth more than £6.99 and sent us a printout from the website www.ebay.co.uk that showed the watch on sale for £49.99. They told us they sent the watches by Royal Mail first class post at a charge of £4.95 per watch.
We noted Mediaprom believed the watch was worth £49.99 but were concerned that they had not shown the charge for sending the item to claimants was no more than the actual cost of postage. We considered that consumers were likely to infer from the claims " ... win a share of £10,000" and "Guaranteed Win!" that they would not need to make a purchase in order to claim. Because participants had to send £6.99 to claim the watch, whether or not they used the premium rate telephone line, we considered that the promotion was misleading. We told Mediaprom not to repeat the approach and urged them to take legal advice if their promotions might encourage participants to make a purchase in return for obtaining their chance of a prize.
On this point, the promotion breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation), 7.1 (Truthfulness) and 27.4 (Sales promotion rules).