A sales promotion on a tube of Pringles crisps stated "Buy 2 cans & get your disco speaker". Small print on the reverse of the can stated "Valid until 31.12.2013 - while stocks last".
The complainant, who had unsuccessfully attempted to redeem the offer, challenged whether the promotion had been run fairly, because they believed stocks of the promotional item had run out three months before the closing date of the offer.
Kellogg Marketing and Sales Company (UK) Ltd (Kellogg's) said they believed they made a reasonable estimate of the likely response to the 2013 disco speaker's promotion. They said that when planning the promotion, they considered the previous year's promotion, when they redeemed 146,336 speakers. They explained that to redeem the speakers in 2012, a consumer required three promotional codes. However, in 2013's speaker promotion, Kellogg's explained that a consumer would have to incur a postage and packaging fee. They therefore expected the redemption to be smaller in 2013. Despite this Kellogg's stated that they placed an initial order for 150,000 speakers.
Kellogg's said they took a number of steps to ensure they did not disappoint their customers. They explained that as the initial order of 150,000 speakers ran out, they changed the communication on the promotional page on their website to make it clear that stocks had run out, but that a further 70,000 speakers had been ordered. Kellogg's stated that they were surprised when these stocks also ran out. They said that upon stocks running out, they ceased shipping the promotional Pringles cans. Kellogg's said they believed the promotion had an unprecedented and unexpectedly high redemption when compared with the 2012 promotion.
The ASA noted that the complainant had unsuccessfully attempted to take advantage of the promotion and redeem the speakers, because stocks had run out. We noted that demand estimates made by Kellogg's were significantly lower than the actual response to the offer. However, we considered that Kellogg's made a reasonable estimate of how many speakers they would need based upon the number of speakers redeemed in the promotion they had ran in the previous year. We noted that the previous promotion was for a similar speaker product and so we considered this comparison was a reasonable basis for estimating demand for the current promotion. We noted that Kellogg's ordered more speakers than the previous promotion, despite the fact that a postage and packaging charge was payable for this promotion, which we considered meant it was reasonable for Kellogg's to predict that this promotion would not be more popular than the promotion from the previous year.
We noted that once stocks of the speakers had initially run out, Kellogg's immediately ordered a further 70,000 speakers and this was communicated to consumers on the promotional page on their website. We further noted that once these speakers had run out, Kellogg's stopped shipping the promotional Pringles cans and communicated on their website that the offer had ended. We considered that Kellogg's had acted promptly to stop promoting the offer once stocks had run out and had effectively communicated this to consumers through the promotional page on their website, the details of which were on the promotional cans.
We considered Kellogg's had made a reasonable estimate of the likely demand for the speakers based on a similar promotion which they had run the year before. We also considered Kellogg's had taken sufficient steps to rectify the shortfall as best they could once stocks had run out and Kellogg's had promptly communicated to consumers when stocks were running low and then when stocks had run out. For the reasons above we concluded the promotion had been run fairly.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Promoters are responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions.
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.
Phrases such as “subject to availability” do not relieve promoters of their obligation to do everything reasonable to avoid disappointing participants.
Promoters must be able to demonstrate that they have made a reasonable estimate of the likely response and either that they were capable of meeting that response or that consumers had sufficient information, presented clearly and in a timely fashion, to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate - for example regarding any limitation on availability and the likely demand.
If promoters rely on being able to meet the estimated response but are unable to supply demand for a promotional offer because of an unexpectedly high response or some other unanticipated factor outside their control, they must ensure relevant timely communication with applicants and consumers and, in cases of any likely detriment, offer a refund or a reasonable substitute product.
Promoters must not encourage the consumer to make a purchase or series of purchases as a precondition to applying for promotional items if the number of those items is limited, unless the limitation is made sufficiently clear at each stage for the consumer accurately to assess whether participation is worthwhile.
(Sales promotions), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.