Following the ASA’s Pet Plan Ltd decision in September CAP has issued updated guidance on terms and conditions in sales promotions, including what information you need to include in the initial advertising copy such as a tweet.
A tweeted prize promotion on @PetplanUK stated “To celebrate #petdentalcare month we are giving away 10 goodie bags filled full of dental treats. Follow and RT to win!” #competition“. Consumers could enter, by retweeting the message, once they had seen the tweet.
Problems with this promotion included the fact that not all significant conditions had been communicated before or at the time of entry. The closing date and how winners would be selected should have been made clear before or in the tweet.
In its recent guidance on significant conditions CAP gives the following example of a tweet that might be acceptable for a relatively straightforward online prize draw: “Enter our prize draw on our website to win a [briefly describe prize] by 1pm DD.MM.YY over 18s only see T&Cs [hyperlink]”.
The rule is that you must include as much information about significant conditions as practicable. In tweets and other online marketing communications (but not emails) it may be acceptable to have conditions of entry one click away from the tweet or other ad
One point to watch is that although Rule 8.17 of the CAP Code lists significant conditions which should be available “before purchase or, if no purchase is required, before or at the time of entry or application,” the ASA has generally interpreted this as meaning that significant conditions should be stated in the initial marketing material.
The general principle of all this is clearly right, both for consumers and marketers: consumers should not be unnecessarily disappointed. Consumers should be able to make the decision as to whether they want and are eligible to participate from the initial advertising copy, not by having to hunt around for the catches. The problem is applying this in practice, particularly to short format ads such as tweets.
The ASA’s approach to tweet promotions is flexible. In another case earlier this year, the ASA rejected a complaint about a series of tweets by Rio Ferdinand where the first tweet was a “trailer”. The initial tweet stated: “I’m giving 2 tickets away for our home match against Stoke (31st Jan KO 8pm) … I will tweet tomorrow morning with details of how to enter …” The trailed second tweet explained: “If you have downloaded the Rio Ferdinand App on iphone/ipad/Android or do so by Monday 5pm u may be randomly picked out to win the tickets! GO”.
The rules in the CAP Code aren’t black and white. Marketers may need to make judgements about how much information to include upfront. The best way of doing this is to put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and ask what you as the consumer would expect to see in the initial ad, or perhaps one click away from it.
And one more thing…
If your promotion involves voting by consumers, and you want to exclude vote-swapping canvassing which is commonplace on social media sites, your T&Cs must state that this is prohibited and will lead to disqualification. Promoters cannot create and enforce T&Cs retrospectively and must state clearly at the outset how participants should or should not behave: The Number UK Ltd t/a 118 118.