Autumn is upon us, and with it comes what have become two of the biggest consumer events of the year - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These days have rapidly evolved into weeks of sales, so it is important to make sure that you’re properly prepared in terms of your promotional marketing – failing to prepare is preparing to fail after all.
Any savings claims, e.g., “70% off”, “Save £50”, etc, must be genuine, accurate and must not exaggerate the saving that could be made. We generally recommend that the sale price should not be available for longer than the usual selling price, and that the sale price should be against the most recent price available. In any event, pricing history and sales data are important; both would be used by the ASA to decide whether the higher price is established enough for a savings claim to be genuine. Introductory offers must be clearly described as such.
When comparing with ‘RRPs’, they should be the price recommended by the manufacturer and at which retailers generally sell those goods across the market. You also need to hold evidence of this – the manufacturer’s website alone, or in conjunction with only one retailer (where the goods are sold by multiple retailers) will not be sufficient.
Up To, All and Everything
If you use a claim like “up to X% off” the ASA will expect a significant proportion of the items included in the sale to be discounted by X%. Likewise, for a claim that prices are “from £X” to be acceptable, you’ll need to show that a significant proportion of the items are available at £X.
If you suggest that a promotional offer applies to “everything” or “all” items, then a qualification that excludes certain items is likely to contradict this headline claim and be considered misleading and to break the advertising rules.
Combine both aspects, e.g., “BLACK FRIDAY UP TO 80% OFF EVERYTHING”, and the ASA would expect evidence that all items had some element of reduction from their usual selling price, with a significant proportion reduced by the full X% amount.
Promotional offers should not normally be extended beyond their closing dates. Unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter make it necessary and either not to change the date would be unfair to those who participated within the original terms, or those who participated within the original terms would not be disadvantaged by the change, promotions which are extended beyond the original end date, are likely to fall foul of the rules.
With popular promotions comes high demand. Ensure you have made a reasonable estimate of demand and that you’re able to demonstrate that you’ve done so. If the availability of promotional items is not sufficient to meet this demand, or if customers need to make a purchase to qualify for the promotional item, you must make any limitations on availability explicitly clear in the ad – “subject to availability” might not be enough.
If, during the promotion, you find that you are unable to meet demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside of their control, you must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants. A press statement after the promotional period ends, will not be sufficient - customers and potential customers should be notified during the period itself.
Significant T’s and C’s
Significant conditions are those which could affect whether someone chooses to participate in a promotional offer or not. These will differ depending on the promotion but normally include a clear explanation of how to participate, closing dates, the nature and number of prizes or gifts, any restrictions and availability.
All significant terms and conditions should be made clear within the initial piece of marketing material. If in doubt about whether a term or condition is significant, play it safe, put it in. For example, if an ad appears before a promotion starts both the start and end date are likely to be considered significant conditions that should be made clear up front.
Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly, and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Ads must also be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society.
There will always be some products and services where very time-limited promotions are unlikely to be fair or responsible, some examples from ASA rulings include shared-ownership home purchases and cosmetic surgery.
Similarly, it should go without saying, but Black Friday isn’t an excuse for sharing sexually explicit content outside of suitable established contexts.
Need help with your Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotional marketing? The CAP Copy Advice team are always on hand to provide free bespoke advice on non-broadcast campaigns.
- Promotions and competitions
- Pricing and charges
- Packaging and point of sale
- Online, catch-up TV and radio, in-app and in-game
- Mailings, email, phone/fax and messaging
- TV and radio (broadcast only)
- Poster and other out of home
- Newspapers, magazines and printed materials