A competition on the website www.freshbloodhunt.co.uk, linked to the film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, stated "To celebrate the release of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter on the 20th June, 20th Century Fox and Bullfrog Digital are hosting an online art competition. 'Fresh Blood Hunt' is an opportunity for budding creative talent to design an art piece inspired by the movie and have the chance to win a 17"Mac Book Pro and have their design painted by street artist Jim Rockwell (Endoftheline) as a mural on Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch, London. For a chance to win these great prizes, all you have to do is upload a file in .jpg/.png/.gif format no bigger than 3Mb to this site ... When you upload your artwork remember to fill in how you got here. The option you select will determine how you make the 'Winners Gallery'. If you're here via our creative partners; when the entry stage closes your artwork will be sent to them and they will select their favorite [sic] two pieces to make the 'Winners Gallery'. If you're lucky enough to make it you'll need to get all your friends voting from June 1st to make sure you're in with a chance to claim the prize! If you're here as a result of social media; you'll make the shortlist if your artwork is one of the top two most liked and shared entries. Remember to shout about your entry as much as possible to ensure you make the voting stage".
Two complainants challenged whether the competition had been fairly run, because one of them had been disqualified after receiving the most votes.
Bullfrog Digital Ltd responded on behalf of both advertisers. They said they had taken various measures throughout the competition to ensure that it was run in a fair manner for all participants, including IP locking mechanics on the voting system to help ensure the legitimacy of votes. They said they had assigned a dedicated team to organise and monitor the competition and that their team had been in communication with all entrants to ensure that there was clarity on the parameters of the competition.
They explained that, on the final day of the competition, they became aware that the leading entry had accumulated a large number of votes between 11pm on 6 June and 3 am on 7 June 2012. They said they noticed that themselves and were also alerted to it by another finalist. That gave them reason to look into that entry's votes and that, upon further investigation, they discovered that a large number of the complainant’s votes were supplied without any names and/or e-mail addresses. They said there was also a very large disparity between the number of votes that entry had accumulated and the number of social media likes/shares and tweets it had gained. They said the developers working on the website highlighted that numerous votes attributed to that entry during the period when the large number of votes were received came from the same IP address. They said none of these issues were identified with any other entrant.
They believed the large number of votes in a small space of time, the lack of any information provided with those votes, the disparity between votes and social media like/shares and the IP address anomalies to be the result of improper actions on the part of that entrant and/or someone acting on their behalf. They decided that that constituted reasonable grounds for disqualification under clause 14 of the competition terms and conditions.
They provided a full list of the disqualified entrant's votes and the winner's votes, along with a copy of the e-mail sent to finalists that confirmed the closing date for votes would be 2pm on 7 June. They said the voting period had closed at that time but that the system may have taken time to register votes received close to the deadline on the website.
The ASA understood that one of the complainants had entered the competition and qualified for the final as a result of being one of the two most liked and shared entries on social media sites. Her entry then received the most votes on the freshbloodhunt website during the voting period 1 June to 7 June 2012. We understood that she felt she had been unfairly treated, because she believed the entrant who won following her disqualification, and the person promoted to second place, had a similar pattern of voting to her and because the voting period had not ended at exactly the right time.
We noted from the lists of votes provided by Bullfrog Digital that a large proportion of the complainant's votes had been recorded with no name and no e-mail address and that a number of votes that did have a name and e-mail address were duplicates. We also noted that a number of the votes had been registered by the same IP address. We understood that the voting system did not record votes chronologically but that staff had also witnessed what they considered to be an extreme voting pattern between 10pm on 6 June and 3am on 7 June. We understood that voting had stopped at 2pm, but that the website did not update instantly which meant the total number of votes for each entrant may have risen after that time.
We noted that the eventual winner had far fewer votes that did not have a name and/or e-mail address and that there were no duplicate entries, which meant the number of votes that the advertisers felt were verifiable was higher than for the complainant's entry.
The competition terms and conditions stated "14. Prizes are awarded at 20th Century Fox and/or Bullfrog Digital LTD's discretion and no prizes will be awarded as a result of improper actions by or on behalf of any entrant". We noted that the terms and conditions did not provide details of what may constitute "improper actions", but the ad said "you'll need to get all your friends voting" and "Remember to shout about your entry as much as possible ..." and we understood that all finalists received an e-mail on 1 June to notify them that they had made the "finalists gallery", which stated "Remember to promote your entry to gain as many votes as possible - the entry with most votes on June 7th (2pm) will win". We considered that all finalists were aware that their entry would be subject to a public vote, and that they could attempt to gain votes by publicising their entry as widely as possible.
We noted that a significant proportion of the votes cast for one of the complainants had been called into question because of the lack of personal information provided with them, the time they were cast and the fact that a significant number originated from the same IP address. We understood that the complainant had been disappointed to discover she had been disqualified and we considered that it would have been preferable for the terms and conditions to have set out examples of what might constitute "improper actions". We nevertheless considered that the combination of irregularities with the complainant's votes provided reasonable grounds for the decision not to award them the prize in accordance with the terms and conditions and we concluded that the promotion did not breach the Code.
Investigated under 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. (Sales Promotions), 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. (Sales Promotions - Administration) and 8.27 8.27 Withholding prizes (see rules 8.15.1 and 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. .2) is justified only if participants have not met the qualifying criteria set out clearly in the rules of the promotion. (Prize promotions).
No further action necessary.