An Instagram post by PrettyLittleThing, posted on 10 February 2021, included a caption which stated “VALENTINES GIVEAWAY Would you LOVE to win all these V-Day goodies” and “Including a Cartier Love Ring, A BRAND NEW Dyson Airwrap Styler, £5,000 CASH, a £500 PLT wardrobe AND a beauty bundle worth over £100”, “All you have to do to enter is”, “Double Tap & Save this post”, “Tag your best Galentines”, “Comment [heart emoji] on ANY post”, “BONUS: Share on your story”, “Enter as many times as you want”, “Must be following @prettylittlething to enter” and “Ends 11:59pm GMT February 14th”. The post included the image of several PrettyLittleThing-branded shopping bags with several products displayed in front. The image included text which stated “Valentines Giveaway”.
The complainant, who believed it was not possible for the promoter to track who had fulfilled the promotion’s entry conditions, challenged whether the promotion was administered fairly.
PrettyLittleThing.com Ltd said that they used an independent third-party website which could download a range of data from Instagram posts, such as ‘likes’, comments and hashtags, relating to the prize draw. They said the computer mechanism allowed them to produce verifiable random results and select a winner. PrettyLittleThing said they then took additional steps to check the eligibility of the chosen winner by manually checking that all entry requirements had been satisfied before awarding the prize. For example, they said that if an entrant was required to share a post to their Instagram Story as part of the entry, PrettyLittleThing may request the entrant go into their archives and screenshot the Story.
The CAP Code required promoters to conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. Promoters were required to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. The CAP Code also required promoters of prize draws to ensure that prizes were awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and, unless winners were selected by a computer process that produced verifiably random results, this was done by an independent person, or under the supervision of an independent person.
There were multiple criteria which entrants had to fulfil to participate in the promotion: ‘like’ the promotional post; save the promotional post; tag the name of someone in the comments of the promotional post; and leave a heart emoji comment on any post. The ASA understood that PrettyLittleThing used a computer program to download certain data, such as ‘likes’, comments and hashtags, from the promotional Instagram post and from that data a potential winner was chosen at random. It was not clear exactly which data the program downloaded, and we understood that data from the post would not show who had fulfilled other entry requirements, such as those who had saved the promotional post or those who had commented with a heart emoji on any post. We acknowledged that PrettyLittleThing may have been able to ask a potential winner to show that they had saved the promotional post and commented with a heart emoji on any post once the selection was made. However, we considered it was important that a promoter was able to independently verify that the conditions for entry were met without requesting that information from a competition entrant.
The promotion also allowed entrants to qualify for a bonus entry by sharing the promotional post as an Instagram Story. We considered those who shared the post would expect to increase their chances of winning the prize as a result. However, we understood that by drawing a potential winner based on the selected data from the post and then verifying whether that individual had met the entry criteria, PrettyLittleThing would be unable to verify if a post had been shared before the draw was made, and they would therefore be unable to assign those entrants who had fulfilled that requirement an additional entry. Furthermore, we understood that if the post was shared as an Instagram Story from a private account, it would not be possible for PrettyLittleThing to identify whether or not the entrant had qualified for a bonus entry. We therefore considered those who had met the criteria for a bonus entry would not increase their chances of winning the prize by doing so.
For those reasons we concluded that the promotion was not administered fairly and therefore 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), 8.14 8.14 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. (Administration) and 8.24 8.24 Promoters of prize draws must ensure that prizes are awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and, unless winners are selected by a computer process that produces verifiably random results, by an independent person, or under the supervision of an independent person. (Prize promotions).
We told Prettylittlething.com Ltd to ensure their future promotions were administered fairly and that prizes were awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance or by an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person. We told them to ensure that conditions for entry were capable of being independently verified and to ensure that they did not claim to offer bonus entries if they were unable to identify all those who had qualified for an extra entry and that they would not be taken into account when drawing a winner.