Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
Two posts on the Facebook page of Glasgow Sofa, a furniture retailer, for prize promotions:
a. The first post, seen on 15 October 2019, stated "GIVEAWAY TIME!! … Enter a competition to win this gorgeous Luxury Buckingham Corner ! … #competition For Glasgow sofa followers … Steps: Like our page ... Mention your Friend Name in comments … Share this post … Best of luck to everyone … Winner will be announced on the 31st!".
b. The second post, seen on 5 November 2019, stated "Christmas Free GIVEAWAY!!!! … The Luxury Ashton Black & Silver Lustro Sofa! … Have A Chance Of Winning This Sofa ( Retailed @ £799.00 ) … All You Need To Do Is … Like … Share … Comment … & You Could Be The New Owner Of This Luxury Sofa!".
The complainant challenged whether: 1. the promotions in ads (a) and (b) had been conducted fairly, because they understood no winners had been published and that the prizes had not been awarded; and 2. ads (a) and (b) misleadingly omitted closing dates and terms or conditions.
Velvet Sofa Ltd t/a Glasgow Sofa did not respond to the ASA’s enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Glasgow Sofa's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 (Unreasonable delay). We reminded Glasgow Sofa of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
The CAP Code stated that promoters must award prizes as described in their marketing communications or reasonable equivalents, normally within 30 days. The ASA had not seen any evidence showing prizes had been awarded. In the absence of that information, we concluded the promotions had not been administered fairly and were in breach of the Code.
On that point the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
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.
Promoters must award the prizes as described in their marketing communications or reasonable equivalents, normally within 30 days.
if more than 30 days after the closing date, the date by which prizewinners will receive their prizes
how and when winners will be notified of results
Promoters must either publish or make available information that indicates that a valid award took place – ordinarily the surname and county of major prizewinners and, if applicable, their winning entries. At or before the time of entry, promoters must inform entrants of their intention to publish or make available the information and give them the opportunity to object to their information being published or made available, or to reduce the amount of information published or made available. In such circumstances, the promoter must nevertheless still provide the information and winning entry to the ASA if challenged. The privacy of prizewinners must not be prejudiced by the publication of personal information and in limited circumstances (for example, in relation to National Savings) promoters may need to comply with a legal requirement not to publish such information.
The CAP Code stated all marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information was likely to mislead. Depending on the circumstances, that information could include a prominent closing date for submission of entries. Marketers must also ensure participants were able to retain or access terms and conditions throughout the promotion and they must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment.
We considered that while ad (a) stated “Winner will be announced on the 31st!”, that in itself did not constitute a closing date for the promotion. We also considered in the context of both ads (a) and (b) the closing date was a significant condition. We noted consumers had continued to like, share, and comment on the Facebook posts in ads (a) and (b) for a number of weeks after they had been made, not knowing whether Glasgow Sofas were still accepting entries for the promotions. We noted the posts in ads (a) and (b) did not contain any terms and conditions, nor did they provide links to where the terms and conditions of the promotions might be found.
Because neither promotion featured a closing date, and in the absence of any terms and conditions, we concluded they were misleading. On that point the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule
All marketing communications or other material referring to promotions must communicate all applicable significant conditions or information where the omission of such conditions or information is likely to mislead. Significant conditions or information may, depending on the circumstances, include:
and 8.17.4.a 8.17.4.a A prominent closing date, if applicable, for purchases and submissions of entries or claims. Closing dates are not always necessary, for example: comparisons that refer to a special offer (whether the promoter's previous offer or a competitor's offer) if the offer is and is stated to be "subject to availability"; promotions limited only by the availability of promotional packs (gifts with a purchase, extra-volume packs and reduced-price packs) and loyalty schemes run on an open-ended basis (Significant conditions for promotions).
The ads must not appear again in the form complained about. We told Velvet Sofa Ltd t/a Glasgow Sofa to ensure they awarded prizes as described in their marketing communications and that future promotions clearly included all significant terms and conditions and, where applicable, included a prominent closing date.