Advertisers can use promotions or competitions to provide an incentive for the consumer or to make products look more attractive. Often these promotions or competitions are temporary; examples include money-off or “two for the price of one”-type offers, text-to-win competitions and prize draws. Ultimately, it is the advertisers who are responsible for ensuring all aspects and stages of their promotions meet the standards of the advertising rules, even when they are using agencies or other third-parties.
All of our work is centred around the need to protect consumers and this is reflected in the strict rules on promotions and competitions. The advertising rules require promotions and competitions to be conducted equitably and fairly, and advertisers must avoid causing unnecessary disappointment. Promotions and competition prizes must be suitable for the target audience and any promotion or competition that requires a purchase to participate must not be addressed to, or targeted at, children.
All ads should be clear and readily understandable by the intended audience. Advertisers should state accurately and unambiguously all the rules, entry instructions and other material terms of the promotion or competition. In particular, participants in prize promotions should be able to retain conditions, or they should be easily accessible, throughout the promotion. Furthermore, conditions and factors likely to affect a consumer’s decision to participate in a promotion or competition should be prominent in all ads. These conditions include how to participate and the closing date.
For prize draws and competitions, independent judges and observers are required, and ads shouldn’t exaggerate or overstate a consumer’s chance of winning a prize. Ads should also not misrepresent the value, nature or availability of the prize on offer and the prize must be as described in the ad when it is received by the winner.
Before running their promotion or competition, advertisers and promoters may find it useful to research other relevant legislation which they need to abide by to make sure they’re acting lawfully. This includes the data protection legislation for which guidance is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Gambling Act 2005 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations legislation.