A leaflet for Domino’s Pizza, seen in February 2023, featured the headline “HOW TO CLAIM YOUR FREE PIZZA”. A QR code was included within the leaflet and further text stated “SCAN QR CODE TO OPEN/DOWNLOAD THE APP. PICK YOUR FREE MEDIUM PIZZA. ENTER CODE AT CHECKOUT”. A unique code was listed beneath that text.
Seven complainants, who attempted to redeem the promotion but were told it had been withdrawn, challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.
Red Miracle Group explained that they had previously run the same promotion for a free medium pizza in October 2022, and similarly, promoted the offer using leaflets. They stated that, in that wave, the offer had a low uptake; specifically, there were 398 redemptions from a total of 262,000 distributed leaflets, meaning the promotion had a redemption rate of 0.2%.
As a result of that performance, they distributed more leaflets for the second wave of the promotion in January and February. On this occasion, 583,000 leaflets were distributed, and the promotion was redeemed a total of 10,634 times. Based on those figures, they calculated that the offer had a redemption rate of 2%. They highlighted that figure was ten times larger than the redemption rate for the previous wave of the promotion.
They believed the larger redemption rate was brought about by abuse of the promotion. They explained that they had estimated the level of demand based on the performance of the first wave of the promotion, but after the first few weeks of the leaflets being distributed, their local stores had reported the same people were redeeming the promotion in-store and that the leaflets had not been distributed as intended. They considered that the promotional terms had been abused because they had intended for one voucher to be distributed per household, and because that process had seemingly not been adhered to, they had not anticipated that the redemption rate would be ten times higher than the offer which ran in October. They said that they had to withdraw the offer to prevent further abuse of the promotion. They acknowledged that it may have caused disappointment among some consumers, but considered that it was necessary to ensure that their stores were not overwhelmed with orders resulting from the promotion, which would potentially impact upon their wider customer service. They highlighted that the small print of the terms and conditions included on the leaflet referred to Domino’s general terms and conditions which allowed them to update, amend or withdraw the offer at any time. They re-iterated that if the promotion had been redeemed as it was intended, that they would not have withdrawn the promotion.
They said that they attempted to mitigate the disappointment of potential participants by offering each customer who had attempted to redeem the voucher, and subsequently contacted customer services, a discount of 60% which was valid across all pizzas, sides and desserts. They considered that represented a strong alternative to the original offer because it permitted greater savings on average, depending on the size of a consumer’s order. They highlighted that the only requirement in using the voucher was that the minimum spend for delivery was met, a requirement which also applied to the original free medium pizza offer.
Domino’s Pizza UK & Ireland Ltd explained that Red Miracle Group were a franchisee of Domino’s Pizza that operated 11 stores. They confirmed that the promotion was only available in those stores.
The CAP Code stated that promoters must conduct their promotions equitably, promptly and efficiently and be seen to deal fairly and honourably with participants and potential participants. The Code stated that promoters must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment and that phrases such as “subject to availability” did not relieve promoters of their obligation to do everything reasonable to avoid disappointing participants.
The ASA understood that the promotional code enclosed within the leaflet enabled participants to receive a free medium pizza when ordering via the Domino’s app. We understood that participants would receive their pizza completely free of charge if they collected it from store, and that minimum spend and delivery charges would apply in cases where participants opted for delivery. The Code stated that marketing communications must not describe a product as “free" if the consumer had to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding and collecting or paying for delivery of the item. Therefore, by requiring consumers to make a minimum spend in order to qualify for the free pizza, the promotion breached the Code. Notwithstanding that, and because it was relatively straightforward for participants to redeem the offer, we considered that the promotion was likely to receive a high level of interest.
We considered Red Miracle Group’s argument that they had withdrawn the promotion because certain participants had redeemed multiple leaflets and, accordingly, that the terms of the promotion had been abused. Whilst we acknowledged that Red Miracle Group intended for one leaflet to be distributed per household, we noted that neither the ad nor the promotional terms and conditions detailed that the offer was limited to one per household, nor that there was any other limitation on the number of pizzas that could be claimed. As such, we did not consider that the promotional terms had been breached by participants using multiple vouchers. In any case, we considered that participants who had not yet had a chance to redeem the promotion were also prevented from receiving a free pizza, and consequently, that they had not been dealt with fairly. Because the promotion had been withdrawn on that basis, we considered that it had not been administered fairly. While the general terms and conditions of the promotion stated that Domino’s Pizza could withdraw the offer at any time, the Code made clear that phrases such as that, did not relieve promoters of their obligation to avoid disappointing participants.
We also understood that Red Miracle Group did not honour the promotion, and instead, offered a 60% discount to those who contacted customer services when they could not redeem the promotion. We acknowledged their assertion that the discount code would result in better savings for consumers because it applied to a number of product ranges across their whole order. However, we considered that was not equivalent to offering a free pizza, as promoted in the ad, and consumers who were genuine participants who should have been able to take up the offer were not able to. Because they did not honour the promotion, we considered that Red Miracle Group had not taken all reasonable steps to avoid disappointing participants.
We concluded that the promotion had not been administered fairly and that it was likely to have caused participants unnecessary disappointment.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.1, 8.2 (Promotional Marketing), 8.9, 8.10 and 8.11 (Availability).
The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Red Miracle Group and Domino’s Pizza UK & Ireland Ltd to ensure that their promotions were administered fairly, and to ensure that they did not cause unnecessary disappointment among participants.