Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Promoters sometimes run promotions offering mystery gifts or prizes, and whilst it is fine to have an element of mystery about a prize or gift, ads must include enough information about the nature of the prize or gift to ensure that consumers have enough information to establish whether or not they want to participate.
Code rule 8.17 states that all promotional marketing should clearly include all significant conditions upfront in the initial marketing material. Significant conditions are those which are likely to affect a consumers understanding of the promotion and their decision on whether or not to participate. Rule 8.17 provides examples of the types of conditions which are likely to be considered significant in all types of promotional marketing, including the number and nature of prizes or gifts (8.17.6). As such, whilst it may be acceptable to offer a mystery gift or prize, the ad must include an indication about the nature and number of those prizes or gifts. This information will differ depending on the prize or gift offered, but is likely to include an indication of value and the nature of the item, such as a voucher or product from a particular brand.
If the mystery gift or prize has any restrictions or limitations, such as time restrictions which restrict when the prize or gift can be used or claimed, or restrictions on where it is valid, this information will also be considered significant, and must be stated in the ad. A promotion offering a weekend away in a mystery European city, for example, must state any validity restrictions, make clear who is eligible to win the prize, and state what is included or excluded, for example, flights and accommodation only.
Marketers should ensure that the ad includes all other significant conditions. See Promotional Marketing: Terms and Conditions for further information.
Promoters must not claim that consumers have won a prize if they have not, and the distinction between prizes and gifts, or equivalent benefits, must always be clear (Code rule 8.19). For more guidance on the difference between prizes and gifts see Promotional Marketing: Gifts v Prizes.
This advice is designed to be read in conjunction with the Promotional Marketing section of the CAP Code and CAP’s Advertising Guidance on the marketing of promotions with prizes.