The front page of the Daily Mail, seen on various dates in February and March 2013, advertised a "daily lottery" prize draw. Text stated "SEE PAGE [x]. TERMS APPLY." The back page of each paper contained a panel headed "Daily Mail DAILY LOTTERY - Mail REWARDS CLUB". Text stated "This is your Unique Number for the Daily Mail Daily Lottery - and also worth 100 Mail Reward Points. For Mail Reward Club only, if number is missing, please log into your account at mailrewardsclub.co.uk for help. Enter before deadline". Inside the paper were a set of "jackpot numbers" against which consumers were directed to match their unique number. Further instructions located on another page stated "If there is no Unique Number printed on your newspaper, DO NOT CALL, just write your name and address in the panel on the back of the paper. Send it to [address]. You will be entered into a monthly draw for £5,000".
Two complainants, who had purchased the Daily Mail on a number of occasions and found the unique number to be missing, challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.
Associated Newspapers Ltd, t/a the Daily Mail, (Daily Mail) said they had given away more than £1.5 million in connection with the daily lottery promotion. They noted that the mechanics of printing a unique number (UN) on the back of over 2 million newspapers daily had never been done before. They said they had considered that, in the unlikely event of a production error, any readers unable to enter the daily lottery because their UN was missing would want a further chance to enter a prize draw. They had therefore created a separate, monthly draw with a prize of £5,000 for those readers. They explained that, in order to ensure that only legitimate entries (relating to missing UNs) were accepted into that draw, it had been necessary to create a postal method of entry and as such they were unable to offer an alternative mechanism with a frequency that matched the daily lottery. They said they were unaware of any better method of verification than requiring entrants to send in their newspaper showing the missing UN. However, they were considering the benefits of adopting a Freepost address for entry into the monthly draw.
The Daily Mail pointed out that it was possible to see the back page of the paper, and the UN panel, before purchase, and said a reader could therefore identify a missing UN before purchase and choose another paper. They said they had put the additional monthly draw in place in case there were any major production errors, and to guard against the event that there were more missing UNs than copies available to purchase. They provided details of the number of entries received for the monthly draw and relative odds of winning prizes in each draw. They further stated that details of the additional monthly draw were included as a term of entering the promotion, so readers were aware of all elements of the promotion and were able to enter the additional draw, the prize for which was the same as the daily jackpot, if their UN was missing. They considered that this was a fair alternative to the main lottery promotion.
The ASA understood that readers of the Daily Mail were able to enter a daily lottery by matching their UN against winning jackpot numbers printed within the paper; matching all six numbers would win the £5,000 jackpot, whilst matching five would win £50. We further understood that unclaimed jackpots would roll over to the next day, resulting on some occasions in bigger prizes. We acknowledged that the Daily Mail had foreseen the potential for some papers to be printed without UNs, and had put in place an alternative promotion, which they regarded as a fair method of dealing with those affected. We considered that the information provided by the Daily Mail indicated that a significant number of papers throughout the promotion, though a very small proportion of their daily circulation, had been missing a UN.
The panel intended to contain the UN was located on the back page of the paper, and was therefore easily visible before purchase. However, we noted that the front page of the paper, which advertised the lottery, referred readers to an inside page (usually page 2), which contained the list of jackpot numbers. That page in turn referred to another location within the paper which contained the terms and conditions and details of how to play, including information about the monthly draw open to those missing a UN. We considered that, in the absence of prominent information easily accessible to consumers before purchase indicating the significance of the UN panel, some readers would not be prompted to check for the presence of a UN before buying their paper.
The CAP Code stipulated that promoters conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. They were required to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. We therefore considered that the Daily Mail, having recognised before the promotion began the possibility of printing errors leading to missing UNs, should have either ensured that readers would be aware of the entry mechanism, and therefore the significance of the UN panel before purchasing their paper, or put in place an alternative prize draw sufficiently similar to the daily lottery to ensure that those missing a UN were not disadvantaged.
In order to enter the monthly draw, readers missing a UN had to send the blank panel from the back page of their paper to the Daily Mail. We considered that that entry mechanism imposed a cost on the reader, including but not limited to the financial cost of postage, which was not present for those whose papers had been printed correctly. In addition, the monthly draw offered the chance to win £5,000, the same amount as the daily jackpot, but there was no opportunity for a rollover scenario, or for matching five numbers for £50, as with the daily promotion.
We noted from the information provided by the Daily Mail that the odds of winning a prize differed substantially between the monthly draw and the daily lottery, and considered that that would result in one group of entrants being disadvantaged. We also noted that the odds of winning in the monthly draw were dependent on factors over which the Daily Mail had no control (the number of papers printed without a UN, and the proportion of those which were subsequently entered into the monthly draw) and therefore had the potential to vary.
In the absence of clear and accessible information to consumers regarding the entry mechanism for the lottery and thus prompting consumers to check for the presence of a UN on the paper before purchase, we were not satisfied that the monthly prize draw was sufficiently similar to the daily lottery in terms of entry mechanism, available prizes and odds of winning to ensure that all participants and potential participants were dealt with fairly, or to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. We therefore concluded that the promotion had breached the Code.
The promotion breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.
Promoters must ensure that their promotions are conducted under proper supervision and make adequate resources available to administer them. Promoters, agencies and intermediaries should not give consumers justifiable grounds for complaint.
How to participate
How to participate, including significant conditions and costs, and other major factors reasonably likely to influence consumers' decision or understanding about the promotion (Significant conditions for promotions).
The promotion must not appear again in its current form. We told the Daily Mail to include prominent information indicating the significance of the UN panel on the back of the paper in their ads, or to suitably amend the method of dealing with those who were unable to take part in the daily lottery.