Ad descriptionA promotion featured on www.millionairemansion.co.uk, seen on various dates in 2018, which offered the opportunity to win a house. Text stated “WIN THIS MILLIONAIRE MANSION FOR £10 Plus 50p Booking Fee Per Transaction… YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! For a chance to win one of the following prizes, simply buy a ticket for £10 (+50p booking fee per transaction) and correctly answer one multiple choice question. Win a millionaire mansion, 10 acres, Rolls Royce, £50,000 cash, 3-hole golf course, swimming pool, gym, self-contained apartment, the contents and furniture, a fully stocked wine cellar and bar, staff for a year, bills paid for a year, Stamp Duty included. Other prizes… 9 cash prizes of £10,000 each, Entries are restricted to aged 18 or over. Please see terms and conditions for further details (Cash Prize [email protected] At least £100,000 in cash if less than 500,000 tickets are sold).
IssueEight complainants, who found that the closing date of the promotion had been extended by 12 months, challenged whether the promotion breached the CAP Code.
Ogilvie Promotions Ltd (Ogilvie) said that the competition was not run as a lottery or raffle but required all entrants to exercise skill in order to fall within the group of entrants from which the winning entrants would be selected. They said that the competition could be seen as Ogilvie’s ‘product’ in that the company’s business did not otherwise involve the sale or supply of any goods or services and therefore the website ad was directed at potential competition entrants rather than for the purposes of promoting an increase in the sale or supply of any goods and services beyond the competition. They explained that the ad constituted an offer to potential entrants to enter into a contract with Ogilvie and that there were restrictions on those who might have accepted the offer such as age restrictions.
Acceptance of the offer and participation in the competition was secured by each entrant making a payment and agreeing that their participation in the competition was subject to contractual terms and conditions that were displayed via the website. This meant that there was a contract between Ogilvie and each entrant to the competition on their contractual terms and conditions. The terms and conditions set out the closing date of the competition which was initially 30 November 2018 and also provided for the extension of the closing date in certain circumstances. On 29 October 2018 Ogilvie informed entrants that it intended to exercise its contractual right to extend the closing date of the competition to 30 November 2019.
Ogilvie stated that insofar as any entrant had an issue arising out of the manner in which the competition was run, including the extension of the closing date, this was a contractual matter and not an advertising issue that would be for the ASA’s consideration. They stated that there were unavoidable circumstances beyond their control which made an extension of the competitions closing date necessary and therefore there was no breach of Code rule 8.17.4.e. They stated that in their notice of 29 October 2018, Ogilvie faced some challenges in the running of the competition included technical issues and serious and prolonged illness of a key member of Ogilvie’s staff. In response to the ASA's investigation, Ogilvie stated that they intended to close the competition on 30 June 2019.
Part I (f) of the CAP Code stated that the Code applied to “promotions in non-broadcast media”. The competition to win a mansion and a series of prizes featured on the millionaire mansion website was a promotion and therefore was within the remit of the CAP Code, and subject to the rules on promotional marketing.
Ogilvie referred to Part IV (h) of the Preface of the Code which stated that “the Code is primarily concerned with the content of advertisements, promotions and direct marketing communications and not with terms of business or products”, however Part IV (h) went on to state that “Some rules, however, go beyond content; for example, those that cover the administration of promotions”, which we considered to be the case with regards to this promotion.
The CAP Code stated that closing dates must not be changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter made it necessary, and either not to change the date would be unfair to those who sought to participate within the original terms, or those who sought to participate within the original terms would not be disadvantaged by the change. In this case, Ogilvie informed entrants by way of a notice that it had extended the closing date of the competition to 30 November 2019.
The ASA considered that in this case, the extension of the closing date would increase the number of entries to the competition and would therefore decrease the chances of winning for those who sought to participate by the original closing date and they were therefore disadvantaged by the change in the closing date. The terms and conditions stated that the closing date could be extended “in the event of exceptional circumstances outside its control which affect its ability to operate the Competition”, and we noted that Ogilvie believed the change had been due to unavoidable circumstances beyond their control which made it necessary, namely that they had experienced challenges in running the competition due to technical issues, and due to the serious illness of a key member of staff.
The Code stated that promoters were responsible for all aspects and all stages of their promotions, and must make adequate resources available to administer them. We did not consider the illness of a member of staff to be unavoidable circumstances beyond their control which made it necessary to extend the closing date, and Ogilvie had not elaborated on the technical issues they had suffered or why the illness of a member of staff meant that they had to extend the closing date by 12 months. In any case, as above, participants had been disadvantaged by the extension, which meant the extension of the closing date by 12 months was not justifiable. For those reasons, we concluded that the competition was in breach of the Code. The competition breached CAP Code rules 8.2 (Promotional marketing), 8.14 (Administration), 8.17 and 8.17.4.e (Closing dates).
We told Ogilvie Promotions Ltd to ensure that, in any future competitions, closing dates were not changed unless unavoidable circumstances beyond the control of the promoter made it necessary and either not to change the date would be unfair to those who sought to participate within the original terms, or those who sought to participate within the original terms would not be disadvantaged by the change.