Ad description

A promotion for free tickets to Legoland, seen on the ‘Superdays’ web page of The Sun website www.thesun.co.uk, on 13 April 2019, included the text “GET TWO FREE TICKETS- SIMPLY COLLECT NINE CODES WITH The Sun SAVERS TO PICK YOUR DATE…STEP 1 JOIN NOW TO PICK YOUR DATE…Download the Sun Savers app or join at sunsavers.co.uk. Then go to the ‘Offers’ section and click ‘start collecting’ in the Superdays promotion. STEP 2 COLLECT YOUR SUN SAVERS CODES…Scan or enter NINE Sun Savers Codes from The Sun between Saturday, April 13-Tuesday, April 30….STEP 3 BOOK YOUR TICKETS…Click ‘book’ in the Superdays promotion to pick your date for Legoland”.

A box for the Legoland promotion appeared below with a link to a “FIND OUT MORE” page. Once the “Legoland” option was clicked through, text stated “THE LEGOLAND® WINDSOR RESORT TWO FREE TICKETS WORTH UP TO £120. We've teamed up with the LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort to bring you a jam-packed calendar of FREE days out to entertain your family and friends”.

Issue

Two complainants challenged whether the ad was misleading because it did not state that there was limited availability for tickets during weekends or school holidays.

Response

News Group Newspapers Ltd t/a The Sun said that over the course of the promotional period, there were 102,600 pairs of tickets available for participants to visit LEGOLAND. From mid-July to the start of September there were over 5,500 pairs of tickets available. They confirmed that the tickets did not run out over the promotional period, and therefore believed they had made a reasonable estimate of the likely demand for the promotion. The ad stated that certain dates were excluded from the promotion and full details were included in the terms and conditions. The ad and terms and conditions encouraged readers to book early for popular dates, which included school holidays. They said that tickets for the school summer holidays sold out on 21 April 2019, which was the first day that readers could book. They said that LEGOLAND was a popular resort with a wide range of age groups, and not only school-age children. They provided a list of rides, which included those that were suitable for toddlers and pre-school children as well as those suited to older children and adults. They said the resort was popular during off-peak times for those who wanted to take advantage of off-peak benefits such as less traffic and shorter queues. They believed the promotion therefore also appealed to adults and adults who wanted to bring children who were under school-age. Children who were of school age could have also attended at weekends outside of the school holidays.

Assessment

Upheld The CAP Code stated that promoters must be able to demonstrate that they had made a reasonable estimate of the likely response to a promotion and either that they were capable of meeting it, or that they clearly presented sufficient information to consumers to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate ? for example, any limitation on availability and the likely demand. Phrases such as “subject to availability” did not relieve promoters of their obligation to do everything reasonable to avoid disappointing participants. The ASA first assessed whether The Sun had made a reasonable estimate of the likely response to the promotion. We looked at how the tickets were distributed across the promotional period and whether The Sun had provided evidence to show how they had estimated the likely response to the promotion. We understood that readers had from 13 to 30 April 2019 to collect nine codes, by purchasing The Sun newspaper, before they were able to obtain a pair of free tickets for LEGOLAND. LEGOLAND was a theme park aimed specifically at families with children up to the age of 12. We therefore considered that a significant proportion of visitors to LEGOLAND would be families with school-age children and therefore there would be a higher demand for tickets over the school summer holidays and on weekends. We understood that 102,600 pairs of tickets were available over the promotional period, from 23 April to 2 November 2019, which included 5,500 pairs of tickets that were available over the school summer holidays. This meant that only around 5% of tickets were made available over the school summer holidays. We considered that The Sun had not taken into account the likely demand for tickets over the school summer holidays, due to the reduced number of tickets made available per week during that period. Furthermore, The Sun had not clarified how many tickets were made available on weekends throughout the promotional period. Additionally, we had not seen any documentary evidence to demonstrate that a reasonable estimate of the likely response to the promotion had been carried out. For example, The Sun did not provide any information about similar promotions on which the estimate of demand may have been based. Therefore, we considered that The Sun did not demonstrate that they had made a reasonable estimate of the likely response to the promotion. The CAP Code also stated that 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 were limited, unless the limitation was made sufficiently clear at each stage for the consumer accurately to assess whether participation was worthwhile. The terms and conditions stated that tickets during school holidays had limited availability, although this was not stated on the ad itself. We also understood that tickets for dates over the school summer holidays had run out on the first day that readers were able to book. However, readers were still able to collect codes for a further nine days and were not informed that there was no longer availability over the school summer holiday period. Therefore, readers did not have the opportunity to assess whether or not participation was worthwhile, as they would have continued to purchase newspapers to collect codes without knowing that key dates were no longer available. We welcomed The Sun’s willingness to make changes to the way they would conduct similar promotions in the future. However, because we had not seen evidence that The Sun had made a reasonable estimate of the likely response, or that consumers had sufficient information in order to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate, we concluded that the promotion breached the Code. The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  8.2 8.2 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.  (Promotional marketing),  8.9 8.9 Phrases such as “subject to availability” do not relieve promoters of their obligation to do everything reasonable to avoid disappointing participants.    8.10 8.10 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.  and  8.12 8.12 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.
 (Availability).

Action

We told News Group Newspapers Ltd t/a The Sun to ensure in similar future promotions that they were in a position to demonstrate that they had 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, in order to make an informed decision on whether or not to participate. Furthermore, they should not encourage consumers 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 to assess accurately whether or not participation is worthwhile.

BCAP Code

8.2     8.9     8.10     8.12    

CAP Code (Edition 12)

8.2     8.9     8.10     8.12    


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